Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has invited farm organisations to a meeting to discuss the controversy over the change to scheme payment dates and the cut to the nitrates derogation this Thursday.
The Farmers Charter group had been due to meet on Thursday morning in Portlaoise to discuss the changes to key scheme payment dates. However, that meeting has now been cancelled, with a fresh meeting scheduled in Dublin.
The Department of Agriculture has said that the Minister has called the meeting to discuss both issues and to listen to farmer concerns.
“I recognise how important payments are to farmers and, in this regard, we have committed - through the Farmers Charter - to explore, for 2024, bringing payment dates back in line with the previous programme when the technological and administrative challenges brought about by the new CAP programme have been fully addressed.
“I want to reiterate to the farm organisations that the Government and my Department is fully committed to making payments to farmers under the various schemes at the earliest date possible and to the maximum number of farmers possible,” he said.
The Minister committed to a review of the payment dates for 2024 in July at the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) AGM, confirming that the 2023 dates are set in stone.
The Minister said he made “a strong case” to the European Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevicius this week for the retention of Ireland’s 250kg of organic nitrogen per hectare (N/ha) derogation until the next review.
“However, he made it clear that there is no prospect of revisiting the current decision.
“This meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss with farm organisations how critical it is that farmers manage their holdings within the derogation limits applying from 1 January next year and the support that my Department can offer,” the Minister said.
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) had been due to hold a protest at the Farmers Charter meeting in Portlaoise. However, it has now moved the picket to Kildare Street.
IFA president Tim Cullinan said that “the time for discussion and updates is over” and called for action from the Minister.