Kenny and Creed meet on agriculture priorities
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has committed to further engagement with the banks on providing flexibility to farmers affected by market volatility.
The Minister met with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny this week to discuss the Government’s key agriculture priorities.
It is understood the pair agreed to prioritise measures to deal with market volatility in the agricultural sector in particular pursuing a number of initiatives at an EU level.
The Department of Agriculture is at present commissioning an ex ante appraisal to examine the merits of including a provision for financial instruments in its Rural Development Programme. It is understood the measure would be in the form of loans or guarantees in the case (remunerated in the form of an interest payment)
Minister Creed also committed to prioritising the development of a new sheep scheme with a budget of €25 million. Consultation will begin immediately with the aim of introducing such a scheme in Budget 2017.
The Taoiseach and the Minister also agreed to prioritise access to new markets, with planning in progress for Trade Missions to Asia.
The Forestry Programme was also discussed at the meeting which was also attended by the new Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Andrew Doyle. with
Doyle who has responsibility for forestry committed to year on year increases in new forestry cover up to 8,290 ha by 2020.
It is hoped that this will help Ireland tackle climate change in addition to providing new investment opportunities for rural Ireland.
The Minister and the Taoiseach also reaffirmed their commitment to the Food Wise 2025 strategy to expand the Irish agricultural sector, in addition to the Harnessing our Ocean Wealth Strategy and the roll out of the Seafood Development Programme.
The programme for Government outlined a host of policy initiatives for the agriculture sector.
CAP – Pillar I
In the context of the EU mid-term review of the CAP, a lowering of the cap on Basic Payments, from €150,000 to €100,000 is proposed
Mid-Term Review Of RDP
A mid-term review of the RDP, commencing late 2016, to consider the effectiveness and workability of schemes and to tailor programmes strategically for the second half of the RDP rollout
Subject to EU approval, expansion of the TAMS scheme to include measures on mats for slatted sheds and rainwater harvesting systems
Areas Of Natural Constraint
Enhanced Areas of Natural Constraint payments, increasing funding in this area by €25m in Budget 2018
A new sheep scheme with a budget of €25m to be provided for in Budget 2017
Invest €300m through the Beef Data and Genomics Programme
Develop increased live export markets – examine export credit models
Investment in the development of a futures market for dairy produce and encourage price stabilisation tools to combat price volatility
Inspection And Appeals
Adoption of new systems designed to streamline the payment system, such as preliminary checks
Review of the Agricultural Appeals Act 2001 to ensure the independence and efficiency of the office in dealing with appeals from farmers
There is also a commitment to honour the Charter of Rights (negotiated with IFA).
Seek recognition from the EU Commission for ‘forgotten farmers’ as a group with specific disadvantage under the National Reserve (farmers under the age of forty who do not meet the five-year rule and who did not receive Young Farmers’ Installation Aid)
Work to ensure the principle of equivalence is maintained in negotiations in terms of food safety, traceability and production standards to ensure that producers are operating on a level playing field
Animal Health And Welfare
Individual blackspots in TB eradication to be addressed and the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 to be strengthened and enforced. A new Animal Health Strategy will be published
Implementation of regulations to tackle unfair practices in the grocery trade and suport for further action at EU level to deliver greater transparency and fairness in the food supply chain
Review of the Forestry Programme 2014-2020 to take place in 2017 and to consider participation rates, climate change, environmental impact, rural communities and land use policy
€15m will be invested in island communities during the course of the RDP
Green Cert will be reviewed to ensure it is fit for purpose
Review of the Farm Assist Scheme, recognising the challenges facing farmers on low incomes
Transportation Of Livestock
The restriction on hauling cattle without tachographs will be raised from 50km to 100km
Commitment to building a larger and more sustainable fishing and aquaculture sector, on the basis of sustainable stocks
New Cabinet Minister And Department Of (Regional Development And Rural Affairs)
A new Cabinet level Minister and Department of Regional Development/Rural Affairs to provide greater political coordination and prioritisation of the work in other Departments in relevant areas that impact on rural Ireland
Agri-Taxation And General Taxation
Investigation of taxation measures aimed at supporting farmers through periods of volatility
Increase to the Earned Income Tax Credit from €550 to €1,650 for the self-employed, to match the PAYE credit, by 2018
Seeking to introduce a PRSI scheme for the self-employed
Raise in the Band A CAT threshold to €500,000
Consideration of the possibility of including in the farm safety scheme a measure on clearing drains
The Government will publish new legislation to de-designate 46 NHAs within the first 100 days of Government
Funding available for the Rural Walks Scheme will be doubled from €2m to €4m to increase the number of walks covered from 40 to 80
Further investment in developing a nationwide Greenway network, with particular reference to the Midlands
Once the contract is awarded under the National Broadband Plan, there is a commitment that 85% of premises will have access to high-speed broadband within two years
Proposal to introduce changes to remove discrimination against small business and family farms under the Fair Deal Nursing Home Scheme
Pilot scheme to re-open six Garda stations (rural and urban)
Commitment to support and prioritise community crime prevention schemes including Neighbourhood Watch and the Text Alert Scheme
The Department of Agriculture will facilitate solar developments with a community dividend, while maintaining Basic Payments, subject to EU Commission approval
The new Partnership Government will comprehensively review price supports for renewable energy following the closure of the REFIT 2 scheme
The new Government will update the wind farm planning guidelines, within three to six months, to offer a better balance between the concerns of local communities and the need to invest in indigenous energy projects. These new planning guidelines will be informed by the public consultation process and best international practice.
Commitment to community participation in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects
Forestry planting to increase to 8,290 ha by 2020
Seeking to introduce a renewable heat incentive scheme
Mobile Phone Coverage
Mobile phone and 4G taskforce to investigate how services can be improved