Speaking following a meeting with Minister Coveney, ICMSA President, John Comer, said that it is absolutely essential that a suitably amended CAP Rural Development Programme must be submitted to the EU Commission as soon as possible so that the new programme can start delivering for farmers later this year.
With a further update expected to be published in the coming week, the CAP Rural Development Programme contains hugely important schemes for Irish farmers including the GLAS scheme which is the replacement for REPS, the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme (formerly Disadvantaged Areas Scheme) and the on-farm investment schemes. Mr. Comer confirmed that ICMSA had raised a number of concerns with the Minister in relation to these schemes including:
– In relation to the GLAS scheme, Mr. Comer said, that farmers must be able to apply for this scheme in Autumn 2014 to ensure a full year’s payment in 2015, there must be adequate funding to ensure that all farmers who wish to join the scheme can do so in 2014 and the scheme must be relevant to all farm types. “I am particularly concerned that the necessary funding will be in place to allow all farmers who wish to join to do so in 2014 and we’re calling on the Minister to secure the necessary funding. Many farmers who participated in REPS over many years are excluded from an agri-environment scheme at present and they must be allowed join this scheme in 2014.”
– In relation to the on-farm investment schemes, with quota abolition in April 2015, there will be a significant investment requirement on farms over the next year and it is essentially that this scheme opens as soon as possible with a speedy approval process so that farmers can complete works over winter 2014. It’s already very clear that there will be a high demand for this scheme during this period so the funding of this scheme should be ‘frontloaded’ so that farmers who want to carry out investments in the 2014/15 period will get approval to do so. This is a hugely important issue that the Minister must address”, said Mr Comer.
– In relation to the Knowledge Transfer Scheme, Mr. Comer said the proposal that dairy farmers who are not in a position to expand would be in the priority two category was neither fair nor logical and ICMSA again called on the Minister to address this matter.
“The CAP Rural Development Programme is a hugely important initiative for farmers but the terms and conditions need to be got right, early approval is required and the Minister should set a target of having all these scheme up and running by early Autumn so that they can operate to their maximum effectiveness”, concluded Mr. Comer.
9 May 2014.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office