Adequate rural development funding must be secured -IFA

IFA President John Bryan has said that the Irish Government must secure up to 3% of the Pillar 2 Rural Development Fund to ensure the effective implementation of key farm schemes.

IFA President John Bryan has said that the Irish Government must secure up to 3% of the Pillar 2 Rural Development Fund to ensure the effective implementation of key farm schemes.

Mr Bryan said that following the recent EU publication on the financial perspective 2014 – 2020, Pillar 2 funding for the EU has been set at €89bn. “Based on the current Programme, Ireland must aim for an allocation of at least €2.5bn over the 7 years, or around €350m per year. The allocation must be based on historical usage as Rural Development measures have played a significant role in farming policy over the past 20 years.”

Commenting on the new EU draft regulations, Mr. Bryan said that it is important that the level of co-financing is set at 50% for all measures. This will allow effective implementation of schemes such as Disadvantaged Areas, agri-environment measures, farm investment schemes and essential restructuring measures.

The IFA President expressed concern that the change in the criteria to natural handicap to define Disadvantaged Areas will be part of the new Programme. “The change will result in some areas being under pressure to retain their status. The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must insist on flexibility to allow the use of other criteria, and ensure that no area loses out.”

Specifically, the IFA President expressed disappointment that the Early Retirement Scheme has been dropped from the EU Regulations. This scheme is essential to assist the restructuring of Irish agriculture and combined with the Installation Aid, would help restructuring objectives in meeting the Food Harvest 2020 targets.

Concluding, Mr Bryan said that the combined Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 measures can be worth €1.55bn annually of EU funding to Irish farmers and combined with EU co-financing, this figure can be increased to nearly €2bn. This support is vital to help sustain farm incomes and allow farmers provide benefits to the wider economy.