What’s in the new programme for government for farmers

Fine Gael and a group of independent TD’s have today agreed on a draft programme for Government which has seen Enda Kenny returned as Taoiseach.

The draft agreement includes a host of agriculture policies covering farmers direct payments to farm building grants.

The IFA this afternoon has outlined some of the key points in releation to agriculture and rural affairs.

Agriculture

CAP – Pillar I

In the context of the EU mid-term review of the CAP, a lowering of the cap on Basic Payments, from €150,000 to €100,000 is proposed

Mid-term review of RDP

A mid-term review of the RDP, commencing late 2016, to consider the effectiveness and workability of schemes and to tailor programmes strategically for the second half of the RDP rollout

TAMS

Subject to EU approval, expansion of the TAMS scheme to include measures on mats for slatted sheds and rainwater harvesting systems

Areas of Natural Constraint

Enhanced Areas of Natural Constraint payments, increasing funding in this area by €25m in Budget 2018

Sheep

A new sheep scheme with a budget of €25m to be provided for in Budget 2017

Beef

Invest €300m through the Beef Data and Genomics Programme

Live Exports

Develop increased live export markets – examine export credit models

Dairy

Investment in the development of a futures market for dairy produce and encourage price stabilisation tools to combat price volatility

Inspection and appeals

Adoption of new systems designed to streamline the payment system, such as preliminary checks

Review of the Agricultural Appeals Act 2001 to ensure the independence and efficiency of the office in dealing with appeals from farmers

There is also a commitment to honour the Charter of Rights (negotiated with IFA).

Forgotten Farmers

Seek recognition from the EU Commission for ‘forgotten farmers’ as a group with specific disadvantage under the National Reserve (farmers under the age of forty who do not meet the five-year rule and who did not received Young Farmers’ Installation Aid)

Trade

Work to ensure the principle of equivalence is maintained in negotiations in terms of food safety, traceability and production standards to ensure that producers are operating on a level playing field

Animal Health and welfare

Individual blackspots in TB eradication to be addressed and the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 to be strengthened and enforced. A new Animal Health Strategy will be published

Retail Regulation

Implementation of regulations to tackle unfair practices in the grocery trade and suport for further action at EU level to deliver greater transparency and fairness in the food supply chain

Forestry

Review of the Forestry Programme 2014-2020 to take place in 2017 and to consider participation rates, climate change, environmental impact, rural communities and land use policy

Island funding

€15m will be invested in island communities during the course of the RDP

Agricultural Education

Green Cert will be reviewed to ensure it is fit for purpose

Farm Assist

Review of the Farm Assist Scheme, recognising the challenges facing farmers on low incomes

Transportation of livestock

The restriction on hauling cattle without tachographs will be raised from 50km to 100km

Aquaculture

Commitment to building a larger and more sustainable fishing and aquaculture sector, on the basis of sustainable stocks

New Cabinet Minister and Department of (Regional Development and Rural Affairs)

A new Cabinet level Minister and Department of Regional Development/Rural Affairs to provide greater political coordination and prioritisation of the work in other Departments in relevant areas that impact on rural Ireland

Agri-taxation and General Taxation

Investigation of taxation measures aimed at supporting farmers through periods of volatility
Increase to the Earned Income Tax Credit from €550 to €1,650 for the self-employed, to match the PAYE credit, by 2018

Seeking to introduce a PRSI scheme for the self-employed
Raise in the Band A CAT threshold to €500,000

Farm Safety

Consideration of the possibility of including in the farm safety scheme a measure on clearing drains

Rural Issues

Turf Cutting

The Government will publish new legislation to de-designate 46 NHAs within the first 100 days of Government

Walks

Funding available for the Rural Walks Scheme will be doubled from €2m to €4m to increase the number of walks covered from 40 to 80

Greenways

Further investment in developing a nationwide Greenway network, with particular reference to the Midlands

Broadband

Once the contract is awarded under the National Broadband Plan, there is a commitment that 85% of premises will have access to high-speed broadband within two years

Fair Deal

Proposal to introduce changes to remove discrimination against small business and family farms under the Fair Deal Nursing Home Scheme

Rural Crime

Pilot scheme to re-open six Garda stations (rural and urban)

Commitment to support and prioritise community crime prevention schemes including Neighbourhood Watch and the Text Alert Scheme

Renewable Energy

The Department of Agriculture will facilitate solar developments with a community dividend, while maintaining Basic Payments, subject to EU Commission approval

The new Partnership Government will comprehensively review price supports for renewable energy following the closure of the REFIT 2 scheme

The new Government will update the wind farm planning guidelines, within three to six months, to offer a better balance between the concerns of local communities and the need to invest in indigenous energy projects. These new planning guidelines will be informed by the public consultation process and best international practice.

Commitment to community participation in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects
Forestry planting to increase to 8,290 ha by 2020

Seeking to introduce a renewable heat incentive scheme

Mobile phone coverage

Mobile phone and 4G taskforce to investigate how services can be improved