IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must make an immediate announcement on the re-opening of AEOS as the deadline for Single Farm Payment is six weeks away.
Flor McCarthy said a substantial number of the 13,000 farmers who finished REPS 3 during the past 12 months need an AEOS 3 scheme as the Teagasc National Farm Survey has consistently shown that REPS payments make up a significant element of farm income, and in particular on drystock farms.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman said that Minister Coveney must recognise the importance of a meaningful AEOS 3 scheme with the restoration of the €5,000 maximum payment level of AEOS 1 and the implementation of the higher Natura payment of €150/ha.
Flor McCarthy said that while the average AEOS payment is about two-thirds of what the REPS 3 payments were, nevertheless with reduced planning fees, the scheme still represents a boost to farm incomes on farms where incomes are traditionally low.
“The Government must recognise the importance of supporting farm incomes, especially at a time where cuts have been made to other income supports such as Farm Assist. Many farmers on marginal land and in drystock have very low incomes and the agri-environment scheme represents a very important element of farm income,” he concluded.