Fine Gael Cork South West TD, Noel Harrington, has welcomed the announcement that the islands are set to benefit from the Rural Development Programme (RDP) outlined by Minister Simon Coveney. The RDP is now being sent to the European Commission for approval.
“For a long time now I have been calling for greater supports for the islands and in particular the introduction of a top up payment for island farmers under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme.
“I was really pleased to hear Minister Coveney announce today that this payment is to be included in the rural development programme. The top up payment is designed to compensate island farmers for the particular challenges they face. This is really good news for Cork South West, where we have seven inhabited offshore islands.
“Where a farmer is resident on an island, an additional €150 per forage hectare will be payable, subject to the maximum of €250 per hectare up to 34 hectares. Where the farmer is not resident on the island the top up rate is €75 per forage hectare.
“Another good measure included in the draft €4 billion Rural Development Programme is on the subject of commonages. The requirement for 80 per cent of active farmers to participate in collection action on commonage has been reduced to a 50 per cent rate applying to either 50 per cent of active farmers or 50 per cent of the total commonage land area. This new provision will now make it workable for farmers in commonage areas. An annual rate of €120 per hectare will apply for the collection actions applicable on commonages which represents an increase on the previous rate of €75.
“Other positive measures include the new beef data and genomics programme which prioritises the sustainability of Irish beef with a view to maximising the contribution of Irish agriculture to climate change measures. I also welcome the allocation of €44 million to support the Organic Farming Scheme and the inclusion of Freshwater Pearl Mussel Catchment areas in the €70 million locally led Agri-Environment Schemes.
“Overall this Rural Development Programme is a really positive step forward for Irish agriculture and is yet another sign of the success achieved during the Irish Presidency of the EU, where the Common Agricultural Policy was negotiated.”