Progress on Rural Development Plan Must Be Built on

Following discussions with the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, IFA President Eddie Downey has welcomed the progress made on a number of key issues of serious concern to farmers. However, Mr Downey reiterated to the Minister IFA’s call that the full allocation of funding provided for in the RDP 2014-2020 is secured, with payments in 2015.

Eddie Downey said the priority for the Minister must be to ensure that vital schemes such as GLAS, ANCs and TAMS are implemented in a flexible way and that farmers are allowed to draw down fully the EU and national funding allocated over the next six years up to 2020. These schemes play a vital role in supporting farm income and applications must be available to farmers at the earliest possible date later this year.

Commenting on the changes to the Plan, the IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said that it was important that the Natura payments in the GLAS scheme fully reflect the restrictions that are imposed on farmers in designated areas.

Furthermore, he said that the payment levels under GLAS must allow the majority of farmers to avail of the maximum payment of €5,000 as well as the GLAS+ payment for farmers who have added restrictions and obligations under the agri-environmental scheme. “The 140 kg/ha limit must not be a barrier to any farmer getting into the GLAS scheme and flexibilities must be introduced by the Minister.”

On TAMS, Flor McCarthy said, “The Minister was left in no doubt that farmers expect a significant on-farm investment programme from the €395m allocated to the scheme with grant payments being made in 2015. There is a need for ongoing investment in all farm sectors and this must be recognised”.

IFA Hill Committee Chairman, Pat Dunne said that the increase in the payment in the commonage areas from €75 to €120 is progress. However, he pointed out the serious concern of commonage farmers where the Minister is still insisting on a 50% collective agreement of active farmers, or the total area of the commonage. “The Minister must take account of the practicalities of the implementation of the GLAS scheme in commonage areas. No farmer must be discriminated against and the Minister’s commitment to address Force Majeure situations must be fully honoured. Commonage farmers must also have an opportunity to qualify for the GLAS+ €2,000 top-up payment.”

Pat Dunne also demanded that the commonage framework plan implementation group with an independent Chairman which the Minister promised at yesterday’s meeting must now happen without delay.

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