Anger as Coveney rules out new environmental package
There will be no new AEOS programme in 2014 despite up to 13,000 farmers coming out of REPS 4 this year.
Early discussions on the Budget proposals suggest that the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, will not bring in a new environmental package next year, but will wait until the new CAP package comes into effect from January 2015.
The move will anger the farm organisations who have lobbied strongly for a more meaningful environmental scheme to replace REPS.
Minister Coveney and his colleagues, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin, met a number of farmer delegations last week as pre-Budget talks stepped up a gear.
However, Minister Coveney is believed to have told party colleagues that a new environmental package was not in his plans for next year. He also ruled out suggestions that the current REPS 4 scheme would be rolled over for a further year.
Minister Coveney has to find €53m in savings for the Budget this year, with €28m to be cut from the Department of Agriculture's current spend and €25m from the capital allocation.
The 13,000 leaving REPS 4 should deliver savings of more than €35m in the Department's overall spend, but it has been suggested that some or all of this total could be carried into next year by delaying REPS payments to farmers.
Talking to the Farming Independent this week, Minister Coveney also raised the possibility of bringing forestry funding back under Pillar II.