Tens of thosands of farmers who qualified for the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme last year are not eligible for any benefit this year due to cuts implemented by the Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney
Louth Fianna Fáil TD Seamus Kirk has expressed serious concern about the latest revelations that the DAS is now on hold because Europe is unhappy with the cuts proposed by Minister Coveney. Deputy Kirk said this is particularly worrying in the context of the Minister’s decision not to reopen the AEOS this year.
Deputy Kirk said, “This will cause serious financial hardship for tens of thousands of small farmers who are already on low incomes. The DAS was established to help the most disadvantaged farmers so by its very nature, those who qualified for the scheme in previous years were dependent on this support. While the scheme remains on hold, these farmers are left out in the cold.
“Europe is particularly concerned by Minister Coveney’s moves to double the minimum stocking rates to 0.3LU/ha and exclude land that’s over 80 kilometres away from the farmers holding. Fianna Fáil has strongly opposed these cuts due to the impact they will have on the most disadvantaged farmers in the country. We have voiced this opposition to the European Commission and I welcome the fact that they too have concerns about the effects on Irish farming.
“The dismantling of the DAS is particularly worrying in the context of indications of recent comments from Minister Coveney that he has decided not to reopen the Agri-Environment Options Scheme this year. The Minister’s agenda is a cause of serious concern. It appears he is more intent on protecting large farmers, while smaller farmers who are most in need of financial support are left high and dry.”