A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture has told AgriLand that work is continuing on designing the new Rural Development Plan (RDF) on the basis of the requirements set out in the draft rural development regulation.

“As part of this process the department is in touch with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to the overall financing that will be required. It is expected that decisions in relation to the content of the new RDP will be made by the end of the year,” the spokesperson continued.

Meanwhile Irish Farmers Association (IFA) president John Bryan said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must deliver 50:50 national co-financing to complement the EU rural development funding to ensure that the new Common Agriculture Policy RDP has a meaningful impact for farming and rural Ireland.

The IFA will hold a rally in the Mullingar Park Hotel on Tuesday, 19 November as part of its campaign. Bryan said farmers will not accept any dilution of national funding as schemes such as disadvantaged areas scheme, agri-environment and farm investment are vital to ensure that agriculture continues to play a crucial role in our economy.

The IFA president said the EU has allocated Ireland €313m of Pillar II Rural Development funding per annum over the next seven years. The IFA has already set out the targets for the minister to draw down this funding with 50 per cent national finance with national top-ups to give an annual allocation of €660m.

The IFA president added the Government now has the opportunity in the RDP to address the income concerns of many farmers who depend to the great extent on Pillar II, payments particularly in vulnerable sectors and regions.

“In relation to farmer investment, it is important that investment aid across all sectors is available to help the farmers meet Food Harvest 2020 targets, fulfil higher environment and welfare standards, and to improve on farm efficiency,” he said.

Concluding, Bryan said the next couple of weeks are crucial for funding commitments as the RDP has to be lodged in Brussels by early 2014, with measures being implemented later in the year.