Rural Development

IFA hold positive Meetings with EU Rural Development officials

Rural Development

At a meeting in Brussels with EU Commission Rural Development officials this week, the IFA got assurances that amendments to Ireland’s 2014-2020 Rural Development Plan can be implemented.

In a statement released a short time ago they called on Minister Coveney to implement all amendments without delay.

IFA Rural Development Chairman, Flor McCarthy said that changes involve the introduction of TAMS measures for grain farmers and the reintroduction of the Sheep Fencing scheme. The availability of these schemes now, in advance of the formal approval by the Commission, is particularly relevant as the next tranche of the TAMS scheme commences on 28th March for all schemes. If it is not introduced now farmers will be left waiting until the following tranche, which will be three months later meaning little or no investment by farmers or money will be paid out this year.

Flor McCarthy said the overall amendments to the Rural Development Plan also involved the Burren scheme being included in the RDP and extended to a wider area, two payments under the Knowledge Transfer programme for farmers with more than one enterprise and some technical changes to GLAS.

IFA has told the EU Commission of the need for more flexibility within the RDP to ensure full utilisation of the €4bn available up to 2020. The new Government when it is in place must face up to the income crisis in agriculture and provide real support to farmers through vital schemes such as ANCs, GLAS and farm investment measures.

In related news IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin confirmed EU Commission said the that the pre–checking of BPS applications in 2016 can happen, provided the facility is made available by the Department of Agriculture. He said the EU Commission said there is no reason why the Department would not facilitate Irish farmers in this way in 2016. “By having the pre-checking facility available, it will significantly help the 2016 application process in terms of reducing errors, speeding up processing and ensuring that the payments are made on time.”

He also confirmed that the new yellow card system for land eligibility, reduced penalties and all farmers who have had difficulties in the past starting off with a new clean slate, is available for the 2016 application. He welcomed the approach from Commissioner Hogan on introducing real simplification measures for land eligibility issues covering pre-checking, a new yellow card system and reduced errors. He said more progress needs to be focused across the cross compliance measures.