ICMSA President John Comer has said that immediate movement is needed in getting final approval for the Irish Rural Development Plan 2014 – 2020 and has called on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney and Commissioner Phil Hogan to exert maximum force on the EU Commission in order to get this approval without delay.

Over the seven-year period the Rural Development Plan 2014 – 2020 represents a contribution of over €4bn to Irish Agriculture with €2.1bn coming from the EU. Comer said that it is crucial these monies are fully utilised over the seven-year period and believes early implementation of the various Schemes such as GLAS and TAMS is vital. He went on to say that Irish authorities submitted the Draft Plan over five months ago and it is totally unacceptable that we are still awaiting final approval.

He noted that there are many thousand farmers whose REPS 4 contracts have either expired or are about to do so at the end of 2014, who are eagerly awaiting the opening of a meaningful agri-environmental Scheme. Early implementation of the new agri-environment Scheme GLAS is critical stated the ICMSA President and has called for an early start date in 2015 in order to allow for significant payments to farmers in late 2015.

In addition, he said that there is significant investment needed on many farms across the country as we enter a period of expansion post-quota and he believes the various on-farm investment opportunities available under TAMS II must be opened for farmers without delay. The availability of knowledge transfer measures for all sectors are vitally important to ensure development of all the key sectors of the Irish agri-sector.

He also said that ICMSA will be addressing this key issue coupled with many more issues of crucial importance to Irish farmers when they meet with Commissioner Phil Hogan in Brussels next week.