IFA President Eddie Downey said the announcement of details for the next Rural Development Plan 2014-2020 is an important part of the Common Agricultural Policy and critical to supporting farm incomes, especially in vulnerable sectors and regions.
He said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must ensure all the schemes are fully-funded in next October’s Budget and payments made in 2015, and the full RDP budget commitment to farmers must be delivered over the lifetime of the Programme.
Eddie Downey said, “Rural Development schemes such as GLAS and the Areas of National Constraint (formerly Disadvantaged Areas) play a vital role. The new GLAS Scheme must be targeted at supporting farmers in vulnerable sectors and regions. The TAMS Scheme, which must be available to all sectors, will encourage on-farm investment and help primary producers achieve growth targets set out in Food Harvest 2020. Their early introduction for the maximum number of applicants is now critical”.
IFA has already set out key demands for GLAS which includes a broad-based scheme available to at least 50,000 farmers, with an average payment of €5,000, and a significant top-up for famers with restrictions. The Association will be insisting that all measures must reflect the full cost of compliance, income foregone and a higher incentive for farmers to participate.
Speaking from Brussels where he is attending a Rural Development meeting, IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said IFA has been told that the quicker the RDP Plan is sent by the Department of Agriculture here, the quicker it can begin. He called on the Minister to have Ireland’s plan submitted without any further delay.
The standard costs must be regularly updated to ensure that farmers get the full 40% grant aid. The IFA President welcomed the additional supports for young farmers and the islands.
Eddie Downey said the Minister has a small, but important, number of outstanding issues that need to be addressed as part of CAP implementation, specifically, the Sheep Grassland Payment and greening issues that will impact negatively on the tillage sector.