SLIGO IFA Rural Development Chairman, Mr. Colm O'Donnell, has urged the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to put in place a meaningful Rural Development Plan, with farmers at the centre of all support measures.
Mr. O'Donnell pointed out that the current plan has been under serious pressure for the last four years with continuous budget cutbacks and some schemes having being suspended.
He said, "It is vitally important that the Minister secures significant levels of EU funding with a co-financing rate of 50%.
"This will ensure that meaningful schemes can be put in place which will have an impact on farm income and which will support the rural economy".
He said that the priority measures in the next plan must include an improved Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, a broader and more meaningful agri-environment scheme compared to AEOS, investment aid for all sectors of farming and support for reintroduction of the young farmer installation aid.
With submissions due to be sent to the Department of Agriculture by mid-January and funding for the next programme due to be finalised at the next EU Heads of State meeting, the Minister for Agriculture must have the new plan up and running by January 1, 2014.