GLAS scheme will remain in place until new CAP – Varadkar
THE current GLAS scheme will continue until the new CAP starts, or there is a transition period, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has confirmed.
He said it is envisaged that GLAS will continue until the new CAP starts or in the transition period.
“In the next couple of months, we will be working on getting REPS plus or REPS 2 up and running, which I know farmers will welcome,” Varadkar told the Dáil, in a heated exchange with Michael Fitzmaurice last week.
Fitzmaurice had accused Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil of reneging on pre-election commitments to deliver a €200/hd payment on suckler cows.
He claimed Fine Gael has rowed back on assurances that dedicated suckler cow supports would be delivered by the party in any new government.
Deputy Fitzmaurice also claimed the Fine Gael leader was trying to “duck out” of commitments given by Fine Gael candidates during the election to provide targeted supports for suckler farmers.
“Once the election was called earlier this year, Fine Gael candidates on the ground gave a commitment to farm organisations and others that their party would introduce a scheme dedicated to supporting suckler farmers,” Deputy Fitzmaurice said.
“However, during Thursday’s sitting of the Dáil, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar tried to duck out of the commitment.”
But the Tánaiste disputed that such a specific undertaking regarding a suckler cow payment was made by Fine Gael, although he conceded that it had been made by Fianna Fáil.
“On the Deputy’s [Fitzmaurice] point about suckler cows, I do not think that was a commitment in my party’s manifesto. It may have been in the Fianna Fáil manifesto. Our manifesto had something about sheep but I do not think we had a specific commitment on sucklers,” Deputy Varadkar
The ICSA, IFA and INHFA have all called for a dedicated suckler cow payment to secure the future of the sector.
The INHFA claimed its proposal for a €200/hd payment on the first 10 suckler cows in each herd, and a graduated payment on the next 15 was supported by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael election candidates.
INHFA said it was “now vital” that the Government clarified exactly what support and under what conditions any suckler payment will be made.
IFA has called for a €300/hd suckler cow payment, while the ICSA said there was scope to use additional funds from the carbon tax to finance an agri-environment scheme and suckler package.
“We want to see a scheme that is more like the old REPS scheme in terms of scale and payment,” said ICSA rural development chair Tim Farrell.
The Programme for Government agreed between the coalition parties acknowledges “the important and unique role that the suckler sector plays in the beef industry” and commits “to developing supports that recognise this critical role”.
However, no commitment is made on a specific per head payment on a proportion of the country’s 950,000 suckler cows.