IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady said that today’s formal approval by the EU Commission for the 2016 amendments to the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme (RDP) must now be followed by proposals for 2017. This is necessary because unless changes are made, the full allocation of €4bn for the RDP will not be fully utilised.
Joe Brady said the acceptance of the Sheep Welfare Scheme, GLAS changes, TAMS tillage grant and measures for the Hen Harrier and the Freshwater Pearl Mussel areas is important but further changes are required for 2017.
The Rural Development Chairman said, so far due to the slow speed in starting some schemes and delays in making GLAS and TAMS payments, as well as in getting the locally-led environment scheme off the ground, there is significant underspend on some measures. “In the recent 2017 Budget, an extra €100m has been allocated for RDP measures, bringing the total figure to €600m annually. Further increases will be necessary in the later years of the Programme to utilise the funding available.”
However, the IFA Rural Development Chairman said more changes are now required, these include increased allocation for ANC payments, additional items under TAMS such as underpasses, rubber slat mats, meal bins for all livestock sectors and further changes to GLAS.
IFA expects Minister Creed to make a proposal to Brussels later this year as part of the annual amendment that is allowed by each member state to their RDP.