Speaking following a meeting with senior officials of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in relation to Ireland’s proposed CAP Rural Development Plan, ICMSA President, John Comer, stated that it is crucial that an amended plan is submitted to the EU Commission as soon as possible to ensure the new plan gains approval without delay to allow the roll-out of schemes. These schemes are of huge importance to farm families and the wider rural communities and their speedy approval is absolutely essential, according to Mr Comer.
The ICMSA delegation addressed the key issues relating to GLAS which are the replacement for REPS, On-farm Capital Investment Grants and the Knowledge Transfer Scheme, all of which are hugely important schemes for Irish farmers.
“With regard to GLAS, it is crucial this scheme is opened in the Autumn of this year to ensure a full year’s payment is available for all applicants in 2015. At this stage, we’re extremely concerned that farmers will not receive a full payment for 2015 with only a partial payment being made and we’re calling on Minister Coveney to ensure that a full year’s payment is made – given that many of these farmers have been excluded from agri-environment schemes for a number of years with a consequent loss of income. In terms of the design of the scheme, we think that the Department should use a standard costing system as opposed to a receipt-based scheme,which created significant problems with the AEOS scheme. It is also essential that the scheme includes measures that are practical for more intensive farms as many of the current proposed measures will not suit these farms and will effectively exclude them from the scheme”, said Mr Comer.
“In the context of quota abolition, the on-farm investment schemes and the ongoing development of farms become hugely important and it is inevitable that there will be greater demand in the early years of this scheme. ICMSA believes that the funding of this scheme should be frontloaded to 2015 and 2016. In terms of investments that are eligible for grant aid, ICMSA repeated its view that underpasses, feeding systems, silage bases and cluster removers where an individual is upgrading a parlour should all be eligible for grant aid. There are significant costs involved in these type of upgrade and ICMSA believes that these items should be eligible under the new scheme as they should be deemed necessary. In relation to the Knowledge Transfer scheme, we welcome the decision of the Department not to discriminate against dairy farmers who do not wish – or who are not in a position – to expand. In the initial proposal, these farmers were in Priority 2 and this has now been changed which is welcome. We’re concerned that the Knowledge Transfer scheme could become almost a ‘paperwork scheme’ and in this regard, ICMSA again called on the Department to minimise the paperwork and concentrate on the practical measures that can be take to improve farm profitability – which should be the key objective of this programme”
IFA Raises Payment Concerns with Dept at Charter of Rights Meeting
Speaking at a Charter of Rights meeting with the Department of Agriculture this week, the IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe said it’s absolutely essential that the maximum number of applicants in tranche 19 of TAMS are approved as soon as possible to provide certainty to farmers who are planning to carry out work.
IFA Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins welcomed confirmation that payment of the ANC balancing payment will commence next week.
He stressed the importance of paying the remaining farmers as soon as they meet their stocking density requirements, which the Dept confirmed happens on a weekly basis. Farmers will be paid as soon as they meet the required stocking density, which in some cases will run to the end of the year.
Michael Biggins also called on the Dept to pay the ANC to farmers who omitted in error to tick the ANC box on their BPS application this year. “A system where a farmer has to ‘opt out’ rather the ‘opt in’ would ensure there are fewer errors when submitting applications,” he said.
IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe welcomed the payment of the BPS balancing payment which commenced this week. “The Dept also confirmed the issue around transfer of entitlement, which held up payments of around 1,000 farmers, has been resolved for most at this stage and the remaining ones will be resolved in the next week,” he said.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden has welcomed DAFM facilitation of farmers who made ‘Draft applications’ to BEEP-S scheme and who had operated under the impression they were participating in the scheme by carrying out measures on their farms. IFA had raised this issue directly with the Department of Agriculture and the acceptance of these farmers into the scheme is the right decision.
Regarding the Beef Finishers Payment, Brendan Golden again called for cattle exported for slaughter in the reference period to be paid on from the surplus in the Beef Finishers Payment fund.
IFA Launches Guide to Personal Insolvency Arrangements
IFA National Farm Business Chair Rose Mary McDonagh and Martin Stapleton, Chairman of the IFA Debt Support Service, have launched a Guide to Personal Insolvency Arrangements (PIA).
IFA Debt Support Service was established following the last recession to provide specific support to farmers in arrears.
The confidential service is comprised of an experienced team of IFA volunteers working with professional support to provide assistance to IFA members in financial difficulty.
Martin Stapleton said IFA has worked with over 500 farmers over the last few years. While the numbers in difficulty are reducing, recent weeks have seen an increase in activity from vulture funds since the COVID-19 Payment Breaks came to an end.
“This guide is available on IFA’s website and will serve as a useful resource for farmers in arrears seeking to protect their family home and farm land,” he said.
A Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) is a debt resolution mechanism outlined in the Personal Insolvency Act, which acts as an insolvency solution for people with unsecured and secured debt.
Rose Mary McDonagh added that a PIA can provide a debtor with protection from their creditors and on completion, a debtor will return to solvency.
At present, the Oireachtas is considering one of two Bills which will reform the area of personal insolvency and amend the current eligibility requirements for a PIA. Rose Mary McDonagh said the definition of relevant debt should be expanded to include debt prior to 2015, and debt secured in or over a debtor’s income reliant/core asset.
The IFA Debt Support Service can be contacted, in confidence, at 1890 924 853.
EU Must Complete an Impact Assessment of Green Strategies
Speaking after a meeting of European Farm Leaders (COPA) with EU Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans yesterday, IFA President Tim Cullinan said that the EU must complete a full impact assessment of the EU Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.
“I told the Commissioner a full impact assessment is needed to determine how much implementing these strategies will cost,” he said.
“Frans Timmermans has threatened to withdraw the Commission’s own CAP proposal if it doesn’t take more account of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies. Yet he has no idea how much these strategies will cost or who will pay for them,” he said.
“People are quoting all these targets without any consideration for their impact on output or on production costs of farmers. Farmers cannot be left to carry the can on this,” he said.
“We also need Teagasc to do an assessment of the impact in Ireland. We are currently deep in discussions on the Agrifood 2030 strategy, but again we have a data vacuum,” he said.
“It’s incredible that the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture has examined the impact of ‘Farm to Fork’ Strategy on farm incomes, output and trade and neither the EU nor Ireland has,” he said.
“The US report predicts that as a result of the strategy, farm incomes would be reduced by 16%. This is as a consequence of the expected loss of production by 12% across the EU which would not be offset by the 17% increase in market prices.”
“If these measures were implemented, the report predicts a loss in output at an EU level which would cause exports to fall by 20% and imports would increase by 2%. The knock-on effect of these changes in trade is predicted to increase the cost of food by €132 per person in the EU.”
“If these figures are correct, they would be devastating for European farmers. Yet the EU Commission doesn’t know, or won’t tell us, what their assessment of the impact will be,” he said.