A meaningful AEOS 3 scheme must be put in place for the thousands of farmers who have finished REPS, according to the Irish Farmers Association.
IFA rural development chairman Flor McCarthy said farmers are very dependent on the EU environmental scheme to support their farm income, and in immediate need of a new scheme to be rolled out.
Mr McCarthy said a substantial number of the 13,000 farmers who finished REPS 3 during the past 12 months need an AEOS 3 scheme as the Teagasc National Farm Survey has consistently shown that REPS payments make up a significant element of farm income, and in particular on drystock farms.
The IFA rural development chairman said Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney must recognise the importance of a meaningful AEOS 3 scheme, with the restoration of the €5,000 maximum payment level of AEOS 1 and the implementation of the higher Natura payment of €150/ha.
Mr McCarthy said: “While the average AEOS payment is about two-thirds of what the REPS 3 payments were, nevertheless with reduced planning fees, the scheme still represents a boost to incomes on farms where incomes are traditionally low.
“The Government must recognise the importance of supporting farm incomes, especially at a time where cuts have been made to other income supports such as Farm Assist. Many farmers on marginal land and in drystock have very low incomes and the agri-environment scheme represents a very important element of farm income,” he concluded.
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