IFA president Tim Cullinan has said it would be “far better” if the level of funding set aside for eco schemes was reduced to leave “as much money as possible in the basic payment”.

Speaking following a meeting of the farm organisations with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue at Backweston on Wednesday, Cullinan called for additional funding to support the farmers “who are being savaged by the combined effect of eco schemes, convergence and CRISS on their incomes”.

“The minister has decided to cut every farmer’s basic payment by 25% to fund eco schemes when it could be less than 20% because of the level of Ireland’s environment spend as part of Pillar II. “These eco schemes are new and they are a leap into the unknown,” he said.

The Irish Farmers Journal understands that potential changes to eco schemes are being “reflected upon” by the Department of Agriculture and the minister.