Agriculture agreement ‘has positive aspects but no specifics on funding’ – IFA

The agriculture chapter of the programme for Government has “some good aspects, but lacks specifics in relation to funding commitments”, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has argued.

Tim Cullinan, the association’s president, noted that the programme for Government commits to an environmental scheme similar to the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS).

However, Cullinan argued that the scheme – referred to in the document as a ‘flagship environmental scheme’ – cannot “just be a recycling of funds from other schemes”.

The IFA president also welcomed the commitment in the agreement to appoint a ‘Food Ombudsman’ in line with an EU directive on the food chain.

Cullinan also pointed out that a ban on live exports and the removal of the nitrates derogation are not featured in the programme document.

On the micro-renewable energy aspect of the agreement, Cullinan noted: “The potential for farmers to contribute to our climate targets through the production of renewable energy is mentioned in the document, but it must be something the new government embraces.

“Farmers are keen to play their part, but to date they have been excluded,” he added.

Agreement

It emerged yesterday, Sunday, June 14, that the agriculture chapter of the programme for Government had been agreed on Friday evening last, June 12.

Sources have said that farmers “will be pleased” with the agreement, and that it will “protect farmer interests in the years ahead”.

Key details of the agreement are emerging, including: a new Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) type scheme; a ‘Food Ombudsman’; an ‘Independent Agriculture Appeals Review Panel’; and incentives for micro-renewable energy generation on farms.

AgriLand had already reported that a new scheme, similar to the REPS, was being discussed in the talks.

This is now confirmed as a “key part” of the agreement on agriculture. There was speculation that the scheme might be referred to as ‘REPS Mark II’ or ‘REPS Plus’.

It is now understood that the final agreement refers to this scheme as a “flagship environmental scheme”, though it is not immediately clear what the scheme’s name will be when it will be finally rolled out.

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