“Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has confirmed an underspend figure of €17m for 2015,” he said.
“This was included as part of the small print of the Supplementary Estimates for agriculture, which were put before Dail members earlier this week.
“This represents a 32% underspend for the current 12 months and confirms that the scheme is not being accepted by farmers. The minister must ensure that the underspend does not result in monies being lost to Irish farmers.
The monies freed up under the Genomics scheme should be used to bolster Area for Natural Constraint payments.”
O Cuiv said that the main ticket item within the supplementary budget was a €78,7m payment to Brussels. This relates to a LPIS fine that was notched up in 2103.
“This is a big hit for Irish farming, as it represents national funds that could have been used to improve farm sustainability in this country.
“The EU must re-assess how fines are levied on member states. Where LIPIS is concerned, the vast majority of non-compliant farmers were working with farm maps which they felt were totally valid at the time.
O Cuiv confirmed that an extra €12m has been provided for Area of Natural Constraint payments this year.
“Although rates have not changed the extra budget could only be accounted for by a higher percentage of the spend occurring before the end of 2015,” he said.
“This means that a higher percentage of the final payment will be paid out before the end of the year. Cash flows will be boosted. But in the long term it will not put any more money into farmers’ pockets.”