O Cuiv says significant RDP underspend possible next year

Ireland could significantly underspend on its 2016 Rural Development Programme (RDP) budget, according to Fianna Fail agriculture spokesperson, Eamon O Cuiv.

According to O Cuiv, a significant proportion of the underspend will stem from lower than anticipated payments to farmers under Agri-Environment Schemes such as GLAS.

“It would appear that in a best case senario in the first tranche of GLAS there will be a €120m spent in a full year. However, there are concerns that the spend under the first tranche could be as low as €110m.

“Meanwhile, tranche two has been cut back sigificantly and it is now likely that there will be a significantly lower average payment than in tranche 1.

According to O Cuiv, the 10,000 members set to be accepted in tranche two are unlikely to exceed €30m in budget spend.

“That’s even if tranche two is fully subscribed,” O Cuiv said.

Eamon O'Cuiv
Eamon O Cuiv

O Cuiv says the RDP will be significantly underspending even at this early stage.

“Even allowing for AEOS applicants, expenditure on Agri-environmental schemes will not reach the €250m that had been forecast by the Department and the Minister.

O Cuiv predicts the Irish RDP could underspend next year by €30m.

“I’m calling on the Minister to restore hedgerow planting and the original levels of low input permanent pasture in tranche two. I feel it completely unfair that applicants were not warned of the changes. As applicants to the second tranche are severely disadvantaged to those in tranche one.

“I am also calling on the Minister to commit to allowing as many possible into tranche two so as to achieve a €250m spend between AEOS and GLAS in 2016,” he said.