Leitrim IFA Rural Development Chairman, James Brennan, has urged the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to put in place a meaningful Rural Development Plan, with farmers at the centre of all support measures.
With the consultation process having already commenced on the next plan, Mr Brennan pointed out that the current plan has been under serious pressure for the last four years with continuous budget cutbacks and some schemes having being suspended.
“This situation must not arise in the next Rural Development Plan as farmers need certainty that all measures that are agreed remain in place for the duration of the 7-year plan,” he told the Leitrim Observer.“It is vitally important that the Minister secures significant levels of EU funding with a co-financing rate of 50%. This will ensure that meaningful schemes can be put in place which will have an impact on farm income and which will support the rural economy”.
He said that the priority measures in the next plan must include an improved Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, a broader and more meaningful agri-environment scheme compared to AEOS, investment aid for all sectors of farming and support for reintroduction of the young farmer installation aid.
With submissions due to be sent to the Department of Agriculture by mid-January and funding for the next programme due to be finalised at the next EU Heads of State meeting, the Minister for Agriculture must endeavour to have the new plan up and running by January 1st 2014.