Following the announcement today (Friday, May 20) by the European Commission that it plans to allow member states to make a lump sum payment of up to €15,000 for those working in agriculture, one farmer organisation has called for clarity on how it will be funded.

The commission said that the payment – which is aimed at offsetting input costs – would be funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), which funds Pillar II of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has welcomed the announcement. However, the farm organisation said that it is “less clear on where this money is coming from”.

Tim Farrell, the association’s rural development chairperson, is calling on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue to “immediately convene” a meeting of the Rural Development Programme Monitoring Committee to examine the funding options.

“The ICSA believes that the government will now need to step up to the plate with real money to actually address the scale of the problem that has seen fertiliser price trebled and diesel price doubled in little over a year,” Farrell said.

He added: “Minister McConalogue must come up with proposals that would utilise a mix of funds from the Rural Development Programme [RDP] and significant additional funds from the Department of Public Expenditure.

The ICSA is also seeking clarity on the potential for direct funding from the EU, rather than purely exchequer funding.

“[We] are clear that any supports offered to farmers must be delivered with the minimum bureaucracy.

“It is critical that mistakes of the past are not repeated. We saw in the BEAM [Beef Exceptional Aid Measure] scheme how unfair and overly complicated conditionality can result in thousands of farmers missing out on vital support,” Farrell stressed.

The new measure could be worth up to €15,000 per farmer or €100,000 per rural business.