Islands connected to the mainland by a permanent access route will not be eligible for a proposed disadvantaged areas top-up.
The rural development programme 2014-2020, recently submitted to the EU Commission for approval, includes a top-up of €150 per forage hectare where a farmer is an island resident, and €75 where a farmer is not a resident but is actively farming island lands.
Simon Coveney, the agriculture minister, said his department would identify and investigate all islands, whether offshore or on inland lakes and rivers, and determine their eligibility.
If approved by the EU, the additional payment will begin in 2015 with the introduction of the ANC Scheme, which is currently known as the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.
According to the IFA’s rural development chairman, Flor McCarthy, nearly 1,000 farmers have land claimed under CAP schemes on islands, with nearly 400 of them living and farming on islands.
He said the increased payment in 2015 for those living and farming on islands would go to €250/hectare, for up to 34ha. This compares to the current disadvantaged areas mountain rate of €109.71/ha for 10ha and €95.99 for the remaining 24 ha. The maximum payment would increase from €3,400 to €8,500, he said.
He anticipated the overall maximum payment could go to €5,950 for 34ha, in the case of farmers who live on the mainland but farm part of their holding on an island.
An IFA survey carried out earlier this year on its six island branches in West Cork, Galway, Mayo, and Donegal showed island farmers faced costs up to 40% higher compared to the mainland.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved