Following a recent meeting with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, ICMSA deputy president, Pat McCormack, has expressed deep concern at the funding proposals under discussion with regard to the 2016 National Reserve.
In 2015, 3% of the Basic Payment Scheme financial ceiling was allocated to the National Reserve providing approximately €24 million in funding. In excess of 6,000 farmers successfully received allocations from the National Reserve last year which has completely depleted the fund available for 2016.
Mr. McCormack observed that last year it was made very clear to all parties that the only source of funding available to the National Reserve for 2016 and subsequent years would be claw-back from the sale of entitlements without land and from unused entitlements.
According to the ICMSA deputy president, nobody can say they weren’t told that the resources available to fund the National Reserve would be limited.
Referring to proposals made at the recent Direct Payments Advisory committee meeting recommending a linear cut in Basic Payments in order to finance the 2016 National Reserve, Mr McCormack said while ICMSA fully appreciates the value of a National Reserve to support young farmers, the association could not countenance such an idea.
“The reality is that farm families all across the country are facing an incredibly challenging year in financial terms – everyone knows this – and any suggestion that the value of payments under the Basic Payment Scheme, which will be the only form of income on many farms, could be further depleted is just not a runner as far as ICMSA are concerned”.
Mr McCormack said that it was not feasible or fair to table proposals that could – in certain circumstances – see hefty cuts to average basic payments in order to fund the Reserve from which payments could conceivably be made to individuals who might be farming on a scale three or four times the average.
He added that even the possibility was likely to trigger huge annoyance and anxiety amongst farmers who were financially ‘at the pin of their collar’ and ICMSA could not entertain the idea.