Minister confirms commitment to 25% Eco-scheme

President of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association Vincent Roddy has welcomed the commitment given by Minister McConalogue to direct 25% of Pillar 1 payments towards the Eco-scheme.

The commitment was, stated the INHFA leader “given at a meeting held by the association in Donegal on Friday night which was attended by Minister McConalogue.”

“In his address to the meeting Minister McConalogue outlined his rationale on the new CAP Plan that included 85% convergence, a 10% front-loading of payments and an Eco-scheme payment involving 25% of the States Pillar 1 payment” added Roddy.

Continuing the INHFA President stressed the importance of avoiding mixed messages as we move to finalise Ireland’s CAP Plan. Over the last week we have, he added “heard suggestions that the Eco-scheme budget could be reduced to help protect higher payment rates which is why the Minister’s clarification on this is vital.

The Minister also confirmed how he wants all farmers to be able access the Eco-scheme which is why he has instructed the Department to look at additional measures for farmers to choose from.

On this Roddy welcomed the introduction of additional measures which are, he stated, “vital in ensuring all farmers can access the scheme.” With regard to payment rates he stressed the need for a uniform payment with rates that reflects the demands made of farmers.

This he maintained is why we need the 25% budget which will pay a rate of €63/ha. To pay anything less would he stated “undermine the work and contribution made from farmers as they deliver on these measures to enhance the environment.”

It is, he continued, “simply not credible for anyone to demand improved payments in ACEM (the new Agri-environmental scheme) for the delivery of actions to address climate change and improve biodiversity while at the same time look to reduce the payment rates for equally demanding measures in the Eco-scheme.”

Concluding, the INHFA leader pointed to the short timescale in getting the CAP Plan concluded. “The deadline to have this in Brussels is the end of this year which is why we need to focus on finalizing outstanding issues which are primarily in Pillar 2.”