The Irish Family-Farm Rights Group (IFRG) has reiterated its call for environmental payments under GLAS to be restored to levels under the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS).
The group's national chairman, Donie Shine, has highlighted that the Irish Exchequer's co-funding of REPS was dropped under GLAS.
“The REPS payment was as good a payment to many farmers as their Single Farm Payment was, in many cases, it was even better, and was essential to maintaining the viability of small to medium-sized farms while at the same time paying dividends in terms of environmental protection.”
“When the financial crisis hit 12 years ago, everybody was hit and farmers were no exception; the Irish state's co-funding of certain EU farm schemes was slashed leaving many Irish farmers, who were heavily reliant on income supplementary schemes like REPS, in dire financial straits.”
“Now that the economy is recovering, and restoration-of-pay claims are being made left, right and centre by various representative unions, it is not before time now that farmers' voices were also heard," Shine added.
Shine insisted that full restoration of exchequer co-funding, commensurate, with that obtainable under the old REPS, must be implemented under GLAS or under a new REP-type scheme, with payments increased in line with inflation.
The IFRG said it will be seeking to have a question to this effect put to the Minister for Agriculture in the next Dáil.
REPS and €300 suckler cow payment
The farm group is currently holding a series of public farmers' petition meetings throughout the country with a petition for a new REPS and a €300 suckler cow welfare scheme available for signing at each meeting.
“It is our intention to present this petition to whatever politician or politicians are willing to ask the next Minister for Agriculture what he intends to do about these and other issues.”
Their next meeting will take place at Loughrea Hotel, Co. Galway tonight (Wednesday, February 26th) at 8pm.