IFA Connacht Vice President Padraic Divilly has accused MEP Marian Harkin of ignoring the need for a strong Pillar II Rural Development fund for the West of Ireland in the CAP negotiations.
At recent meetings in the West it is clear that Marian Harkin is preoccupied with Pillar I payments when in fact she should also focus on the Rural Development measures which are vital to the West of Ireland. Her approach for a flat rate payment will lead to a situation where the justification for disadvantaged areas and agri-environment schemes will become much more difficult especially in vulnerable regions.
Padraic Divilly said keeping the focus on Pillar II is vital and it is vitally important that the EU Rural Development Budget of Ireland of €313m per year is fully matched 50/50 by the national exchequer with significant national top-ups. IFA estimate that an annual fund of about €750m will be necessary to support Disadvantaged areas agri- environment schemes, farm investment programmes, young farmer measures, training etc. in the 7 year period.
Padraic Divilly called for the maximum pressure to be put on the Minister for Agriculture and the Government to fund Rural Development measures. Decision on Rural Development Plan is similar to deadline on 7 year budget and it is now important that clear commitments were given and MEP’s must put their shoulder to the wheel.