ICMSA says only 'deserving applicants' should qualify for National Reserve payments
Speaking following a meeting of the Direct Payments Advisory Group Meeting, the Deputy President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, said that the Minister for Agriculture cannot expect farmers to sign a blank cheque in order to establish a National Reserve
He said his organisation will insist that a maximum funding limit is put in place.
“Farmers have already lost 5% of their BPS/Greening payment to establish a National Reserve and Young Farmers Scheme and in the context where many farmers see their payment declining annually due to convergence and where Brexit could lead to another 5% to 10% cut in payments," McCormack said.
He said ICMSA will insist that the Minister cap the National Reserve at the current level.
"We note, by the way, that the Young Farmers Scheme has an underspend of €5m - and that the Department accepts that farmers cannot be expected to add to these funds if the scheme is oversubscribed.
"For very many farm families the BPS/Greening payment represents 100% of their income and any cuts in these payments is a direct hit on family income and the proposal currently in place represents a 0.4% cut in each farmer’s BPS/Greening payment.
"This is difficult enough but farmers will certainly not accept further additions to this, approximately €52m of farmers direct payments have been allocated to the National Reserve and Young Farmers Scheme to date and this is the limit that farmers are prepared to accept”, said McCormack.
The ICMSA Deputy President said that in common with all schemes operated by the Department, in the event of the scheme being oversubscribed, decisions will have to be taken to bring the number of applicants into line with the funding available through the use of selection criteria.