The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney must not abandon in this week’s Budget the 13,000 farmers who are leaving REPS4 at the end of this year, as the loss of REPS payments in 2014 will have a devastating effect on their farm income.
The promise by Minister Coveney that he will have a scheme for these farmers in 2015 is not acceptable as it will result in the farmers affected having a two-year lapse in getting vital agri-environment payments. Payments under any new scheme would not arise until the end of 2015 at the earliest and this will mean that there will be a serious income crisis on these farms.
If Minister Coveney does not act positively it will be the first time in 20 years that an agri-environment scheme has not been available to farmers. Farmers with designated SACs, SPAs and Commonages will be forced to farm under severe restrictions without compensation if measures are not put in place.
IFA Rural Development Chair