REPS and DAS bear brunt of Budget cuts
AEOS suspended but good news on the Suckler Cow and TAMS
Cuts to payments for the 30,000 farmers in REPS 4, reductions to Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) payments and the suspension of AEOS for the coming year are the headline measures announced in yesterday's Budget speech.
However, funding for the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme (SCWS) is to be maintained at current levels, the Targeted Agricultural Measures Scheme (TAMS) is to be reopened and funds are to be made available for BVD eradication.
Details of the cuts were outlined yesterday by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin. The second instalment of the Budget package will be delivered by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan this afternoon.
Yesterday's speech outlined where reductions of €101m in the Department of Agriculture's capital spending allocation and €242m in current spending were to be found.
A 10pc cut in REPS 4 payments, subject to EU Commission approval, was the big surprise. Given that the average payment to farmers in the scheme is close to €7,000, the move will cut close to €20m in overall receipts.
Cuts to DAS payments was the other talking point. Under the Budget proposals, the DAS allocation was cut by €30m from €220m to €190m.
This is to be achieved via a minimum stocking density and retention period and the exclusion of horses from stocking density calculations.
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said the focus of the cuts would be on non-productive and non-active recipients of DAS payments.