OFFALY IFA Chairman Joe Parlon led a delegation of over 30 farmers at a meeting with local Fine Gael TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy in Birr over what he descrtibed as ‘unacceptable cuts to the new AEOS Scheme’.
The IFA County Chairman stated, “There is huge anger among farmers on the ground, who were promised the Scheme would be similar to last year. The Minister’s first major decision has left farmers very disappointed. He must re-examine the Scheme and look at ways to increase the number of farmers and the level of funding”.
Joe Parlon said Marcella Corcoran Kennedy gave a strong commitment to Offaly farmers that she will demand that Minister Coveney increases funding for AEOS to ensure that the number of applicants can be increased to 10,000 and the level of funding increased to at least last years’ rates.
The meetings with TDs at local level followed an emergency IFA Executive Council in Portlaoise last week, which heard strong criticism of the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney for his failure to deliver a meaningful AEOS Scheme, which was announced in last year’s Budget and promised to farmers in the recent General Election.
The IFA President John Bryan remarked, “Up to 10,000 farmers will have completed their REPS3 Plan before the mid-May application date. Agri-environment payments such as AEOS and REPS are a vital part of the farming system, supporting farm incomes and adding greatly to the environment and the wider rural economy. Farmers around the country are extremely annoyed that the AEOS has been watered down by Minister Coveney.”
IFA Rural Development Chairman Tom Turley said the reality is that for many farmers, the reduction in payments for farmers leaving REPS and joining AEOS will amount to an average of €3,000.
“For a low-income sector of farming, this is a devastating blow and is significantly acute in SAC and commonage areas where farming activities are severely restricted,” he concluded.