Government under-spend on RDP will cost farmers €300m: Ó Cuív
Farmers will be short-changed to the tune of €300m over the next five years as the Government looks set for a massive under-spend in the Rural Development Plan.
The latest figures released by the Department of Agriculture show that the first 17,625 GLAS scheme applicants have received an average of €680 each.
This should account for 25pc of what they will eventually be paid for their first year in the scheme, resulting in an average payment of less than €3,000 per farmer.
While the €2,000 top-up to GLAS+ farmers is likely to bring up this average by another €500, it will still leave the average payment under €4,000 on average - a full 20pc lower than the €5,000 that was touted as a standard payment when the scheme was first launched nearly two years ago.
In addition, the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, has insisted that this scheme will cater for 50,000 farmers when it is at its peak, but observers believe that both this target and the €5,000 average payment are unlikely, especially in the wake of the removal of the low input grassland measure.
"There is no way that the €250m budget that we were told was set aside for this scheme is ever going to be used," said Fianna Fail's agriculture spokesman, Éamon Ó Cuív.
"By my reckoning, the most that can be hoped for is €200m a year, which will leave farmers €50m short every year over the five-year duration of the scheme."