AT a special COPA meeting dealing with the future of the rural development policy post-2013, IFA National Rural Development Chairman Tom Turley pointed out that sufficient EU funds must be made available to support key rural development measures.
Mr Turley pointed out to the meeting, attended by EU farmer union representatives from the 27 member states, that the 10% allocation for rural development must at least be maintained in the next round and similarly that the EU co-financing rate should also be maintained at 50%.
He outlined how Ireland secures 3.5% of the total EU Rural Development Fund, which is based on historical draw down and the significance of farm schemes in Ireland. Schemes like REPS, AEOS, Disadvantaged Areas, on-farm investment supports, young farmer schemes and the wider leader programme have helped revitalise the rural economy. In the next programme these schemes must be continued as they are a vital element of farm income.
Mr Turley commented, “over the next number of months the EU Commission will be coming forward with detailed proposals on rural development and IFA will be making presentations both directly to the Commission and through COPA.
“Of particular concern to Ireland is the proposal by the Commission on the greening of the pillar 1 measures, which could negatively impact on the agri-environment programmes.
“The newly appointed Minister for Agriculture, Marine & Food Simon Coveney must ensure that REPS and AEOS continue to play a hugely significant part in the support for farm incomes, protecting the environment and assisting the rural economy,” he concluded.