It’s one year ago this week since Micheál Martin arrived into the Irish Farm Centre ahead of the general election at the IFA AGM, but has he made good on his promises to farmers?
At last year’s AGM, he committed to a €15/ewe payment under the Sheep Welfare Scheme, a €5 increase.
This commitment hasn’t been followed through on, to date, and last week Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue announced that the scheme would be extended for 2021, but there was no mention of an increase in the payment rate per ewe.
He promised an areas of natural constraint (ANC) fund of €300m.
With the ANC Scheme among the schemes rolled over into 2021, farmers are yet to hear of an increase in funding for the scheme.
Over €241m was paid out under the ANC scheme in 2020, meaning €60m will need to be found to make good on this promise.
A €200 suckler cow payment was touted by An Taoiseach this time last year.
In Budget 2021, €40m was allocated to the rollover of the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP).
Another €45m was allocated to the Beef Sector Efficiency Pilot, a scheme which will build on the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme for Sucklers (BEEP-S).
While suckler farmers are receiving an average of €165/suckler cow in supports through BDGP (€80/cow) and BEEP (€85/cow on average), there is still no dedicated €200/cow payment.
Agri-environment scheme and food ombudsman
A “farmer-friendly” agri-environmental scheme was committed to by the Fianna Fáil leader this time last year.
A new REPS-type scheme is on the way, with €79m allocated under Budget 2021 for agri-environmental measures.
Details on the scheme are scarce and the full budget for the scheme has yet to be agreed.
The Department of Agriculture previously told the Irish Farmers Journal: “The pilot is expected to open for applications from farmers in the second quarter of 2021, with the aim of financially supporting farmers for carrying out important environmentally-friendly actions.”
A food chain regulator was promised by the Fianna Fáil leader, with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue recently saying that a national food ombudsman must be established by the start of May.
A commitment was made to enact the fair deal legislation early in the lifetime of the current Dáil, with €225m set aside over five years to pay for the costs of the scheme.
This legislation is due to come before the Dáil early this year.
Tune into www.farmersjournal.ie on Thursday for coverage of the IFA AGM and comments from the Taoiseach and Minister for Agriculture.