Scheme breakdown: Where is Ireland’s RDP money going?

Ireland leads other member states in terms of its implementation of the Rural Development Programme (RDP), according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The country currently has the second highest rate of draw-down of EU funds among all member states, the department adds.

The average EU financial rate for draw-down of funds – up to May 31, 2018 – was 33% whereas Ireland’s execution rate was 53%; one of only two countries with over 50% of funds drawn down.

Based on current up-take and projections, the entire budget allocation of some €4 billion for the Rural Development Programme will be spent – which will result in the entire €2.19 billion of EU co-funding being drawn down, the department has said.

Current projections are that the 2014-2020 RDP will require €104.9 million of transitional funding from the next programme, additional to the €4 billion, if implementation of schemes continues at their current level.

It is expected that almost all of the entire €4 billion budget will be spent by the end of 2020, with some spend in 2021.

Under EU regulations governing the programme, funds for multi-annual commitments entered into by the end of 2020 may be claimed up to the end of 2023, according to the department.

RDP spending is also subject to the annual estimates process and budgetary rules, but this should not affect the overall spend and any funds unspent in a year are carried forward to subsequent years.

Schemes expected to exceed their allocation

The following schemes are expected to exceed their indicative allocation, according to department estimates; this will be met from savings in other schemes and from transitional funding.

Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC): The original allocation in the RDP financial Plan was €1.37 billion which included Less Favoured Areas (LFAS) transitional funding.

The additional budget of €75 million (for the three years 2018-20) has increased the allocation to €1.445 billion.

Based on current projections, total spend is expected to be €1.493 billion, which exceeds the allocation by €48 million. Of this, €34 million is attributable to ANC, with the remaining €14 million to LFAs.

The ANC and LFA scheme are annual schemes which are demand-driven. The number of eligible applicants in the last few years equates to a total annual payment greater than that provided for in the the financial plan and this is projected to continue to the end of programme.

Organic Farming Scheme (OFS): The allocation in the RDP Financial Plan is €56 million over the lifetime of the programme to achieve 62,000ha under organic production.

Based on current projections, the total spend under the scheme is expected to be €66 million with approximately 72,000ha of land under organic production.

Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS): When GLAS opened it was announced that 50,000 farmers would be allowed into the scheme. The indicative spend of approximately €1.4 billion included a sum of €390 million for the commitments arising from agri-environment measures in the 2007 – 2013 RDP.

The performance target for GLAS, as contained in the RDP, is 50,000 farmers and this was reached in 2017 when the final GLAS 3 participants entered into the scheme.

Schemes not expected to spend their full RDP allocation

As is normal in demand-led voluntary schemes, some are expected to underspend, as follows.

Knowledge Transfer (KT): The commitment at the launch of the scheme provided a budget of €100 million over the lifetime of the programme.

Based on current levels of take-up for 19,000 farmers, the total expenditure under the scheme is expected to be €69 million, the department estimates.

Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH): The allocation in the RDP financial plan is €6 million. However, the spend is expected to be less due to the reduced incidence of BVD and a revised focus of the Johne’s Disease Programme.

Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP): The commitment at the launch of BDGP provided a budget of €300 million. Based on current levels of take up for 24,600 farmers, the total expenditure (M1 BDGP Training and M10 BDGP) is expected to be €290 million (including ICBF costs).

Sheep Welfare Scheme: The allocation for the Sheep Welfare Scheme is €25 million per annum or €100 million over four years. Based on current up-take the total projected spend is €20 million each year – working out at 20,000 applicants with two million ewes.

Transitional schemes: The allocation in the RDP financial plan for transitional schemes (AEOS, REPS, TAMSI, ERS, LFAs/DAS) was €637 million.

Based on current projections, the actual spend on transitional schemes is expected to be €599 million.