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Saturday 20 October 2018

No CAP cash for suckler cow supports

Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring. Photo: Tom Burke

There will be no unspent CAP monies available to fund a €200/hd suckler cow support scheme, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, will tell the Joint Oireachtas Agriculture Committee today.

The entire €4bn allocation for the Rural Development Programme (RDP), which is financed through the Pillar II of CAP, will be spent by 2020-2021 Minister Creed will inform the committee.

It had been suggested that any unspent Pillar II funds could be used to finance a possible suckler cow payment. However, Minister Creed is expected to rule out such a move.

Based on current projected spending across all schemes under the RDP, the Department of Agriculture is currently committed to spending €105m over and above the €4bn allocation to the RDP, Minister Creed will inform committee members.

Although some possible savings have been mooted from GLAS, the Department maintain the full budget of €1.4 billion for the environmental scheme will be used. The total spend on the scheme will include €390 million for legacy payments on REPS and AEOS.

The Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) has also been mentioned as a possible source of unspent funds from its €395 million allocation.

However, expenditure has picked up over the last eight months and is now running at an average of over €1m a week, Department sources indicated.

It is estimated that there are almost 10,000 existing approvals on which funding has to be drawn down by approved applicants.

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Minister Creed is expected to concede a €10 million saving on the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), with the projected spend amounting to €290 million for the 24,600 farmers involved, rather than the €300 million allocated.

A further €30 million will be available under the Knowledge Transfer initiative, with the projected spend coming to €69 million of the €100 million of funding allocated.

However, Minister Creed is expected to point to the €100 million Sheep Welfare Scheme, €25 million extra for the ANC scheme, as well as the Hen Harrier and Pearl Mussel initiatives, as areas where additional funding was required.

Meanwhile, the slow uptake of funds under the €250-million LEADER programme is likely to be targeted by the committee as a possible source of funding for other measures. There has been widespread criticism of the current LEADER regime, which is implemented by Minister Michael Ring's Department of Rural and Community Development, with partnership companies blaming excessive bureaucracy for the poor draw-down of funding to date.

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