“Full co-financing of Pillar 11 rural development schemes is a crucial element in the CAP programme soon to be unveiled by Minister Coveney.
This was stated by Independent MEP Marian Harkin when she called for full support to be given to the IFA campaign for full co-financing of Pillar 11 Rural Development funding.
She said;- “The virtual abandonment of the original REPS Scheme demonstrated a worrying lack of real commitment by the Department of Agriculture to what was a most successful scheme which delivered for farmers and for the environment. The Department’s attitude, by diminishing and virtually eliminating REPS, was very poorly regarded by the European Commission while the replacement AEOS was rightly criticised by farmers who were called upon to deliver environmental gains at little financial gain for themselves. Also the abandonment of the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme was a body blow to the industry.
“A targeted Disadvantaged Areas Scheme is central to preserving the viability of rural areas in which active farming forms the core economic activity. As such there is a need to avoid excessive bureaucracy and above all no changes during the course of the programme which can unjustly and unacceptably penalise farmers.
“In the Leader programme, over which there is so much uncertainty, the delivery mechanism must remain as community led local development. Minister Hogan intends to involve local authorities in the Leader process but under no circumstances should they be given access to Pillar 11 funds for projects which up to now derived financing from local and national government funding
"I am calling on the Minister to announce without delay his commitment to full co-funding of Pillar 11. Farmers need some level of certainty so that they can plan for using their share of the next round of CAP funds”, Marian Harkin MEP concluded.