RDP: sustainability or another Dairy subsidy?

21st January 2014
Press Release

An Taisce – The National Trust for Ireland – expressed concern in some of the details of Ireland’s new Rural Development Programme (RDP) for the 2014-2020 period. There were several positive developments. These include the relatively high level of co-financing for Pillar II of 46.3%, continued support for disadvantaged areas, the provision of incentives for the collective management of commonage, and a separate organic farming scheme.

However, An Taisce expresses concern at the capping of the agri-environment payment that a farmer can receive at €5,000 and the indirect subsidies that are being provided for dairy expansion.

“GLAS seems to be well-designed at a conceptual level. Although the €5,000 cap is an increase on the most recent AEOS, it does not provide adequate compensation for the actions needed to restore the poor ecological status of many of Ireland’s protected areas.”, stated Jack McCarthy, agri-environment policy officer with An Taisce. “We don’t have all the details yet, but we are concerned that much of the RDP will act as a subsidy for post-quota dairy expansion through on-farm capital investments”, he stated.

Indeed, the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme II (TAMS) seems to be largely aimed at providing capital for the development of farm-level dairy infrastructure in the form of equipment, animal housing, slurry storage and dairy buildings. While it is important that the best equipment is available to Irish dairy farmers, so they can minimise environmental impacts, there is a large degree of uncertainty about what will happen when milk quotas are removed in 2015. An Taisce questions the environmental sustainability of dairy expansion and whether it is wise to place all of Ireland’s eggs in one figurative dairy basket.

The Government's focus is unclear in terms of Ireland's lack of food security. Given the shortage of home-grown fruit and vegetables, shouldn't horticultural producers be entitled to similar grants for polytunnels and allied facilities? An Taisce is advocating that a broader range of undertakings qualify for the proposed capital investment programme, namely: polytunnels, constructed wetlands and agro-forestry systems.

Moreover, the provision of RDP funding for this dairy expansion contrasts sharply with the fact that more than half of Ireland’s habitats are in bad or unfavourable condition. “A simple way to secure more funding for such habitats would have been a 15% transfer of funds from Pillar I to Pillar II”, continued McCarthy, “England, Wales and Scotland all made significant transfers of funds. Minister Coveney, however, opted not to use this option.”

An Taisce once more question the government’s commitment to supporting short term production regardless of the environmental cost.

ENDS

For further information, please call:

James Nix, Policy Director, An Taisce Tel: +353 86 8394129

Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995

email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org

An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland

www.antaisce.ie

Notes:

Disadvantaged areas are now referred to as Areas of Natural Constraints Transfer of funds from Pillar I to Pillar II England 12% Wales 15% Scotland 9.5%