The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) cautioned against the dangers of reducing the Eco-scheme budget in order to accommodate farmers on high historic payments.
Speaking after a meeting with Minister McConalogue, National President Vincent Roddy warned against the danger of reducing this budget, stating how “this would be negatively perceived at EU level and undermine future CAP budgets.”
Currently the Eco-scheme budget is set at 25% which will deliver a payment to all farmers of €63/ha on completion of two measures. While there have been suggestions that this should be reduced, the reality added Roddy “is that, if this were to happen farmers would still be expected to deliver on the two measures but would be paid less for carrying them out.”
This continued the INHFA President “undermines everything we are trying to achieve for farmers with regard to the payment for a public good through increased environmental output.”
With a major change in emphasis in the upcoming CAP towards delivering on a green agenda Roddy stressed the need for farmers to be paid enough. “While many will maintain that €63/ha is not enough it clearly doesn’t make sense to reduce the budget and pay even less” he added
It is he continued “vital that we recognise the changed landscape which will impact well beyond the upcoming CAP Programme. Payments made to farmers will increasingly be on the basis of improved environmental output. While we may not like this, it is the new reality.”
In this changed landscape we must ensure that farmers are supported. This he stated “will require a major increase in the CAP budget and is achievable provided we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot. Unfortunately any proposal to reduce the Eco-scheme budget would do just that.”
Concluding, the INHFA President stressed the need for the Minister to hold firm on the Eco-scheme budget adding “that future CAP Budgets could well depend on this decision.”