Chairman of Offaly IFA Joe Parlon said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney needs to be stronger in defending low-income farmers by securing a meaningful AEOS scheme in 2012 for the thousands of farmers who depend greatly on agri-environment payments for their income.
Over 400 farmers in Offaly have completed REPS 3 and are in income crisis situation because there is no environmental scheme for them to apply for at the moment.
“Does the Minister not realise that the loss of REPS3 will represent a reduction of up to 50% in net incomes for many of the farmers affected? No other sector is being let down so hard, and the Minister needs to deliver a meaningful AEOS scheme if the so-called social solidarity is to mean anything for farm families.”
Mr Parlon said, “Farmers are angry that Minister Coveney has failed to introduce an AEOS scheme in advance of the Single Farm Payment deadline of mid-May. Delaying a scheme until later in the year will result in income losses for farmers as many have finished their REPS3 contract.”
Joe Parlon pointed out after 2013 over 700 farmers in the county will be finished in REPS 4. This situation needs to be dealt with immediately. 30,000 farmers will finish REPS 4 plans, leading to significant savings. “A new scheme must include all of the measures in AEOS 1 and 2. Schemes such as REPS and AEOS underpin agricultural production as well as sustaining the environment in parts of the country where land is marginal and incomes are low.”
The average AEOS payment is about two-thirds of REPS3, but with reduced planning fees, the scheme still represents a boost to farm incomes the county.