IFA calls for change to Rural Development Plan

Donal Greene, the Roscommon chairman of the IFA rural development committee, has called on Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, to make significant changes to the Rural Development Programme.

  He said that these would ensure that there was full utilisation of the €4 billion available to the programme over the seven-year period.

  In a detailed submission to the Department of Agriculture, the IFA has called for significant changes to the Glas scheme, which will open again in the autumn for up to 15,000 farmers.

  This will bring the total number of famers in the scheme to over 50,000 and will have a significant impact on farm income, if further changes are made.

  Among the changes that the IFA is proposing is an increase in payment rates for a number of measures, including commonages and Natura areas.

  In addition, IFA wants a reversal of the cuts to the Glas II when the area qualifying for low input grassland was halved and hedge planting was suspended. IFA wants the low input grassland restored to 10ha.

  Mr. Greene said that with only around 15 per cent of farmers so far qualifying for Glas+, an opportunity exists to increase this significantly.

  “This can be done through allowing farmers who have significant Natura and commonage land, as well as tillage farmers who take on the catch crop measure, into the scheme,” he said.

  In relation to Tams, the IFA is calling for the inclusion of additional items for grant aid. These include: underpasses, meal bins, maintenance of field drainage systems, rubber mats as well as specific measures for pigs and poultry.

  Also, the IFA wants greater flexibility in the definition of Young Farmers to qualify for a higher rate of grant.