IFA Rural Development Chairman, Flor McCarthy has said that 10,000 applications for AEOS 3 indicates the vital need for a meaningful agri-environment scheme and illustrates the importance of direct payments to support farm income.
Mr McCarthy said that it is now up to the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to ensure that all applicants are given every chance to join the scheme. The limit of 6,000 places should be reviewed in light of the huge interest as schemes such as AEOS have a significant knock-on effect to the wider rural economy.
THE IFA Rural Development Chairman also said that in the context of the next CAP Rural Development Plan, the Minister should note the high level of interest in this scheme as over the next 2 years up to 30,000 REPS 4 contracts will be completed.
Meanwhile, Flor McCarthy said that with 2012 REPS 4 payments now being made, it is important that as many payments as possible are made to the 45,000 farmers who are in REPS 4 and AEOS 1 + 2 by the end of the year.