IFA’s recently elected Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy has said that his priorities will be the effective implementation of Rural Development Schemes which are of huge significance to most farmers.
Mr McCarthy said the immediate priority for the Minister of Agriculture Simon Coveney must be to introduce an AEOS 3 scheme over the coming month ensuring that famers who have finished REPS 3 have a scheme available to them. It is vital that an AEOS 3 scheme involving the restoration of the maximum payment of €5,000, increasing the Natura payment to €150/ha and allowing up to 10,000 farmers to join the scheme is made available.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman criticised the decision of the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to reduce REPS 4 payment by 10%. It is now up to the Minister to stick to his promise to reduce compliance costs to make up the loss to farmers.
On Disadvantaged Areas, Flor McCarthy said that changes to stocking rate criteria must not discriminate against genuine farmers whose land is not capable of carrying greater than the 0.15LU/ha and who will have difficulty reaching the new 0.3 LU/ha limit for 2012. He also called for concessions for farmers who have part of their farm in disadvantaged areas and who stand to lose under the new criteria which the Minister is imposing.
On the CAP, he said it was vital that Ireland secures adequate EU funding for Rural Development measures post 2013. In the current 7 year programme, the EU allocation to Ireland is €346m which was matched by a similar amount of state co-financing. While no specific figure is yet agreed nevertheless it was vital that Ireland gets an allocation broadly similar to the current round of funding. This will allow effective implementation of agri environment measures, Disadvantaged Areas and farm investment schemes to help farm modernisation and efficiency.
Flor McCarthy said the Disadvantaged Areas review also forms part of the CAP proposals and it was important that in the change in criteria from socio-economic criteria to natural handicap, that sufficient flexibility is given to member states to protect existing areas.
Concluding, the IFA Rural Development Chairman warned that famers will not tolerate any further Government cuts to vital farmer scheme. These schemes combined with CAP Pillar 1 Single Farm Payment play a vital role in supporting farm income and underpinning Agricultural production