Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 11 December 2017

€500m is new minimum for RDP - Coveney

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

A BATTLE to secure a minimum of €500m a year in annual funding for rural development schemes goes to the wire this week as Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin go head-to-head.

Minister Coveney is pushing his Cabinet colleague to commit a minimum of €187m a year in exchequer funding to Pillar II of the EU's CAP spending.

This equates to just over 37pc of a co-funding commitment from the Government, a huge decrease on the 47pc co-funding that existed for the last seven years.

"The average over the last period of funding was €630m, but this clearly isn't a realistic figure to be aiming for," Minister Coveney said.

"Next year, we will spend €405m on rural development here. Farm organisations need to be more realistic on this issue; 50:50 funding is a call too far, but I am still pushing hard to maximise the investment.

"But Minister Howlin has real challenges," he added.

Minister Coveney had previously indicated that decisions on the detail of how Pillar I would be divided up would be known by mid-November and Pillar II by the end of November.

While he emphasised his desire to get a decision on the thorny Pillar II co-funding issue before Christmas, Minister Coveney hinted that a stalemate between his department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform could develop if he wasn't satisfied with what was on offer.

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"I'd like to clear up the uncertainty that surrounds this issue for farmers before Christmas, but if I feel I'm not being fairly treated then there will be no deal," he said.

He admitted that the discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform had been "pretty robust".

A 37:63 split in national and EU funding for Pillar II would represent a total loss to the rural economy of at least €700m over the seven-year lifetime of the CAP programme.

NECESSITY

Macra said that anything less than matching funding by the Government would show a total lack of regard for the development of rural areas, highlighting in particular the necessity for an installation aid scheme in the Rural Development Programme.

Meanwhile, anger continues to simmer in western regions, where farmers and communities have traditionally relied most on Pillar II schemes such as Disadvantaged Area, REPS and Leader.

During the CAP reform negotiations, the IFA president John Bryan told farmers in the west that he had an understanding with Minister Coveney that 50:50 funding of the rural development budget in Pillar II would be delivered.

The IFA president John Bryan said he was in contact with the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and the Ministers for the Environment and Agriculture in a "final push" to secure 50:50 co-financing for rural development at the weekend.

"Our officers are also meeting rural TDs to drive home the message," he said.

Irish Independent