Divert surplus contribution for overall EU budget to farm schemes, say hill farmers
An additional €550m that the Government pledged to the EU budget annually should now be diverted into a national top-up for Pillar II schemes, the INHFA has claimed.
Earlier this year the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, indicated that the Government was willing to allocate extra funding towards the overall EU budget, increasing Ireland's total contribution from 1.1pc to 1.3pc of gross national income (€550m).
This move was aimed at protecting the EU's CAP budget, which is forecast to be cut by 5pc.
But the Irish initiative has failed to gain traction in Brussels due to the reluctance of member states such as Germany and the Netherlands to increase their national contributions to the EU.
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However, the INHFA maintained that the Government's efforts to retain CAP payments at existing levels could be achieved by targeting the €550m originally earmarked for increased EU contributions directly at Pillar II schemes.
Pillar II schemes
"Our Government has the option to fund the Rural Development Programme (RDP) or Pillar II at a much higher rate than it currently does," said Vincent Roddy of the INHFA.
Pillar II schemes are currently 52pc funded by the EU and 48pc funded by the national exchequer.
"By using €300m per year of the €550m promised we could increase the ANC budget by another €50m, double the payment rates on the sheep welfare scheme, and deliver a suckler cow payment to all suckler farmers of €200 per cow," Mr Roddy maintained.
A 5pc reduction in the overall CAP budget would result in cuts of almost 4pc to Pillar I payments and over 15pc for Pillar II schemes.
A 15pc cut in RDP funding would result in €700m being lost in payments under such schemes as ANC, TAMS and any new agri-environmental measure during the seven-year term of the next CAP programme, Mr Roddy pointed out.
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