RDP co-funding decision expected next Tuesday

Industry sources have confirmed to AgriLand that the Cabinet will make a decision on the proposed co-funding of the next Rural Development Programme (RDP) next Tuesday with the results of their discussions to be made public the next day.

Meanwhile the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) is continuing with its campaign to garner as much political support for the co-funding initiative as possible.

A spokesman for the organisation confirmed that today’s proposed meeting with the Tánaiste has had to be postponed because Eamon Gilmore is part of the Government delegation attending tomorrow’s Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

“This get-together may well happen later in the week,” he added.

“We have received a clear commitment form Agriculture Minster Simon Coveney that he will push for co-funding. But at the end of the day, it is the Government as a whole that will decide on this crucially important issue for Irish agriculture.

“I can also confirm that IFA members at a regional level are in constant communication with their local TDs and other political representatives on this matter.”

The EU has already committed €300m as its contribution towards the pump priming of the next RDP, which gets under way in 2015. If co-funding is secured, it would see the Government making the same budgetary commitment.

Last week an IFA delegation, headed up by president John Bryan, met a dozen Fine Gael backbenchers in the Dáil, in order to discuss the co-funding issue and, specifically to put the association’s case for retention of the Government’s current level of commitment to the funding of RDP schemes.

“That meeting went tremendously well,” the IFA spokesman further explained.

“There was a very positive engagement between all of those participating in the meeting. What’s more, the politicians taking part confirmed their full understanding and sympathy for our position.”

The IFA representative went on to point out that RDP measures play a vital role in maintaining the fabric of production agriculture in Ireland.

“We are expecting that the next programme will provide additional support to the suckler sector. This, in turn, will help maintain the viability of our red meat processing industry, which is worth €2bn to the Irish economy annually.

“The RDP also plays a crucial role in maintaining a viable farm production base in vulnerable areas. We also expect that the new programme will be used to help improve efficiency on farms across the entire range of sectors.”

Additional reporting Ciaran Moran and Lisa Deeney