IFA President John Bryan has said that the introduction of an AEOS 3 is of paramount importance to the thousands of farmers who depended greatly on REPS payments to support their farm income.
Speaking at a packed IFA Connacht regional meeting in Roscommon last night, Mr Bryan said, “Up to 13,000 farmers have completed their REPS 3 contracts and many of them require a meaningful agri-environment scheme to underpin their farm viability. Minister Coveney must respond immediately with the introduction of a new AEOS 3 scheme.”
IFA branch officers from the region were unanimous in their call to the Minister to put a scheme in place without delay as the Single Farm Payment application deadline of mid-May looms. He said, “While the average payment is lower, nonetheless the AEOS scheme plays an important role in supporting farmers whose income was hit hard by the loss of REPS 3.”
Mr Bryan pointed out that over the next two and a half years, 30,000 farmers will finish their REPS 4 plans, leading to significant savings. He said a new scheme should include all of the measures in AEOS 1 + 2 with the first priority category being farmers with Natura land, followed by farmers who include measures that add significantly to environment, and farmers worst hit by the loss of REPS.
The IFA President said farm income on drystock farms still represents only 50% of the average industrial wages. Schemes such as REPS and AEOS underpin agricultural production as well as sustaining the environment, and a priority must be to put an AEOS 3 scheme in place for all those farmers.
The meeting also discussed CAP reform, Disadvantaged Areas, the inspection regime and the Fiscal Treaty.