IFA President John Bryan said that Ireland is failing in its commitment to agri-environment schemes because the Government has yet to implement an AEOS 3 for the thousands of farmers who have completed their REPS 3 plans.
Mr Bryan was speaking following meetings in Brussels where it is clear that Ireland is out of step compared to other countries, and not following through on its agri-environment commitments as agreed in the CAP Rural Development Plan 2007-2013.
The IFA President said that the Minister for Agriculture must now commence negotiations on a meaningful AEOS3, which must be available to farmers in all areas, and not just in Natura and Commonages.
Mr Bryan said, "The objective in the Rural Development Plan was that 70,000 farmers would be in agri-environment schemes at this stage. However just 45,000 farmers are currently in REPS 4, AEOS 1 and AEOS 2. At the end of this year over 500 farms will have completed REPS 4, to be followed by a further 29,000 by the end of 2014."
"This will lead to significant savings in the RDP and these savings must be used to put a meaningful AEOS 3 scheme in place. Furthermore savings will accrue through underspends of EU funds across a number of areas including the Broadband scheme. These savings must be used to put in place a meaningful AEOS 3 which will allow EU commitments on the agri-environment programme to be met."
Concluding John Bryan said that agri-environment schemes are a vital support to farmers, underpins environmental standards and ensures agricultural production is sustained.