IFA president Tim Cullinan said the ‘REPS’ pilot results-based scheme proposed by the Department of Agriculture, based on the much-hyped commitment in the programme for government, needs to deliver real money to farmers.
The president led a delegation, including national rural development chair Michael Biggins and national hill chair Flor McCarthy, to meet Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to discuss the new scheme this week.
“Despite all the hype, no budget has yet been confirmed for this pilot scheme.
“Drawing comparisons with the original Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) that was first introduced in the 1990s will look like complete spin if the Minister doesn’t deliver a serious scheme,” he said.
The experience with results-based schemes to date has been positive, but, in general, farmers participating in results-based schemes are also in GLAS, which gives them a base payment.
There are several conditions beyond a farmer’s control, such as weather, that can have an impact on the results achieved, which can have a negative effect on the payments farmers receive.
“What farmers need is a meaningful scheme, with a base payment of €10,000. If the Government want to live up to their promises, they must deliver this,” he said.
IFA rural development chair Michael Biggins said the programme for government promised there was to be €1.5bn over 10 years from carbon tax to fund a ‘REPS-2’ type scheme and this money was to be in addition to CAP pillar 2 funds. This money must be delivered as part of a meaningful scheme for farmers.
The IFA submission identifies over 20 different measures that could be included in the new pilot scheme.
Biggins said the scheme must be opened immediately to deliver a meaningful payment in 2021. The IFA submission states that a specific menu option should be made available to all farmers in the scheme, giving them the choice to pick a system that best suits their farm, while maximising their payment and yielding an environmental return in line with the scheme objectives.
IFA hill farming chair Flor McCarthy said that for over 20 years, Natura 2000 lands (SACs, SPAs, NHAs) and commonage lands have been given priority entry into agri environment schemes.
“This partially recognises the restrictions imposed on these lands and they must be given priority entry and higher payment rates in the pilot scheme and all future agri-environment schemes,” he said.
Processors have to increase milk price to reflect strong markets
IFA dairy chair Stephen Arthur said the latest PPI is further confirmation of strengthening dairy markets.
“Now is the time to increase milk price. Processors need to step up and deliver a higher price. Input costs are soaring and farmers need a rise in price immediately,” he said.
Following the 15% rise in the GDT on Tuesday, the Ornua PPI for February is 108.5, up from 107.3 the previous month.
The increase is driven by stronger butter and powder returns, which was also seen in the GDT. When adjusted to include the Ornua value payment, the PPI equates to 34.99c/pl.
“Seasonal bonuses should not distract from the base price. The base price has to rise now to reflect market returns,” he said.