10th April 2012
ICSA rural development chairman John Barron has re-iterated ICSA opposition to any cuts in the disadvantaged area scheme. Mr Barron said that there was a lot of confusion out there with the scheme with no word yet from Brussels as to whether the proposed changes to the scheme outlined in the budget will be implemented.
Mr Barron stated that farmers in DA areas cannot carry a €30 million cut. “While there are efforts to find a way to cut €30 million without hitting deserving active farmers, the truth is that it is exceptionally difficult to cut expenditure from €220 million to €190 million without creating all sorts of anomalies which will have very severe impacts on certain categories of farmers.”
“For example, the progressive farmer, whose main holding is in a disadvantaged area should not suffer any cuts just because he has taken extra land in a non-disadvantaged area. This would be a penalty on enterprising farmers.”
“There is also a difficulty with stocking rate rules. Many farmers in the west have been subject to stocking rate cuts under Commonage Framework Plans. To be fair, the Department will allow a derogation for these cases, but it will require the farmer to apply for such a derogation. It is essential that these cases are expedited so that there are no hold-ups in payments.”
“Unfortunately, successive governments have seen the disadvantaged area scheme as a soft touch when it comes to cutbacks. This is the kind of cut, which undermines confidence in government and EU funded schemes. The entire Pillar 2 programme has become very discredited in recent years due to cutbacks, and it undermines the case for a robust Pillar 2 in any CAP reform.”