Fianna Fáil has promised a €50m increase in Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) money and a €60,000 limit on CAP money in its general election manifesto.
The party has said that additional financial resources are necessary to ensure that farmers on the most disadvantaged lands are maintained and that lands do not fall into disuse and disrepair.
This, it said, will underpin a more regionally balanced and sustainable farming system across Ireland.
It has pledged to allocate an additional €50m above 2020 levels to bring the ANC scheme funding to €300m per annum. In terms of biodiversity, it has said it will: Enhance biodiversity management of lands by fully restoring the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Farm Plan Scheme with an additional €4m in funding.Ensure the NPWS completes a threat response plan for the conservation of hen harriers on designated land.
€60,000 limit on CAP money
In terms of the CAP and direct payments to farmers, the party said it will “secure national ceilings at EU level on individual CAP payments and restrict them to €60,000 in Ireland to safeguard the family model of farming”.
It has pledged to work with European colleagues to ensure a fully-funded, fair and simpler CAP that safeguards direct payments.
Under the CAP, it promises to:Introduce a complementary redistributive income support for smaller and medium-sized farms in the next CAP.Fight to ensure the next CAP accommodates Ireland’s 3,500 'forgotten farmers' (farmers under 40 years, who commenced prior to 2008).
For suckler farmers, Fianna Fáil said that while the Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP) plays an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the Irish beef herd, the administrative burden and low returns of the government’s scheme continues to undermine this vital industry.
It promises to reform and simplify the BDGP and ensure a €200/head payment on the first 20 cows. The approximate cost of this measure will be €46m in additional funding.
It also said it will continue to support and develop live exports.
National food ombudsman
This week, Micheál Martin promised a beef industry regulator to oversee the beef trade.
In the party’s manifesto, this regulator will take the form of a national food ombudsman, which will cost €2.3m. The ombudsman is to “protect primary producers in national law and ensure fairness and equity in the food supply chain”.
It will also enforce prohibited unfair trading practices and “enhance price transparency”.
Anaerobic digestion (AD) strategy
A national strategy for anaerobic digestion (AD) has been mooted by the party in order to “exploit the full potential of bio-gas production and bio-economy in rural Ireland as a key economic stimulant of future jobs in rural areas”.
Organic, tillage and horticulture
Fianna Fáil has put organics, tillage and horticulture into the one bracket in its manifesto. For these sectors, it has said it will deliver on the following:Establish a new national food ombudsman to protect primary producers in national law and ensure fairness and equity in the food supply chain for tillage and horticulture farmers.Set ambitious targets to bring new land into organic production in the successor strategy to FoodWise 2025.
Work to secure increased funding for organic farming schemes in the next RDP.Work for a new Knowledge Transfer Scheme in the next CAP.
For forestry, Fianna Fáil said that if elected it would work at EU level to get recognition of the estimated 660,000km of hedgerows throughout the Irish landscape as a carbon sink.
It pledged to restore the annual forest premium rates to pre-2009 levels for grant and premium categories, with a priority put on broadleaves in order to incentivise the planting of native species. The cost of delivery on this is €5.8m.
Other forestry promises include:Ensure the next CAP prioritises and incentivises the planting of trees on farms.Work towards achieving the 30% national target for broadleaf planting, which is a condition of EU state aid approval for forestry.Expand the NeighbourWood Scheme for increased recreational tourism opportunities.
Other points of note
The Fianna Fáil manifesto also vowed to deliver the following:Expand Farm Assist means testing rules to disregard the first €3,000 of income and means test the remainder at 50% at a cost of €18m annually. This is to encourage more enterprise and increased production from small farmers.Ensure the climate action fund is targeted to help prepare the sector for Ireland’s transition to a low carbon economy.Work with Teagasc to identify further measures regarding carbon abatement potential over the decade ahead for the agriculture sector.Reduce ammonia emissions by introducing 100% capital allowances for the uptake of 1,500 units of low emission slurry spreading (LESS) equipment annually by farmers over a four-year period. This measure will cost €3.4m.
Ensure that the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme remains a permanent suckler support scheme.Support the work of the Beef Market Taskforce and associated actions regarding beef specifications.Support the Sheep Welfare Scheme as a key income support for sheep farmers.
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