Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív has told Agriland that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney’s sums do not add up, with regard to the implementation of the new Pillar 2 support arrangements

“By my calculations farmers will lose out to the tune of €400 million over the lifetime of the new Rural Development Programme,” he said. “I have taken account of all the policy options cited by the Minister and, irrespective of what parameters are taken into to consideration, he will still end up with a significant underspend.

“My calculations are based on the government’s 46% national funding contribution and all the various N plus 2 permutations, which are allowed under current EU regulations.

“The fact is that the Minister will not be paying out significant sums of money under the new GLAS scheme until the early months of 2017. I have also factored in the option of the next Rural Development Programme lasting for up to seven years.”

The Fianna Fáil representative went on to point out that his suspicions had been raised regarding Minister Coveney’s spending intentions by virtue of the fact that he had not yet received a clear breakdown of costs from the Department of Agriculture.

“Minister Coveney has also been very evasive on those occasions when I had the opportunity of putting these issues to him,” Ó Cuív continued.

“So it is my intention to bring the matter up in the Dáil tomorrow during Minister’s questions. Essentially I will be asking Simon Coveney to detail his spending plans for the new Pillar 2 support measures and to reconcile these figures with the total budget that will be available to him.

“I remain firmly convinced that he will have no option but to reveal an underspend of €400 million. This is money that will be lost to agriculture, as it will be simply absorbed back into the Exchequer.”

Turning to the new Pillar 1 measures, Mr Ó Cuív stressed that Minister Coveney’s proposals did not meet the needs of production agriculture moving forward.

“I have consistently made the point that the Minister’s Pillar 1 policies do not put the needs of our most active farmers front and centre. This point has been made to me consistently by farmers over recent weeks.”