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Mayo farmers dismayed by axing of AEOS

IFA disappointed after politicians’ promises fail to deliver AEOS scheme

Anton McNulty

FARMERS in Mayo feel they have been let down by politicians who promised them there would be an AEOS scheme in 2012 according to the IFA in the county.
Over 1,400 farmers in the county who were due to join the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) after the completion of REPS 3 were left disappointed and facing an uncertain future after the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney confirmed the scheme would not go ahead.
Mayo has one of the highest percentage of farmers participating in REPS with 1,430 farmers due to complete REPS 3 today, May 1 and join AEOS. The value of the scheme is worth €8.9 million to Mayo according to Mayo IFA Chairman, Padraic Joyce, who said he was expecting the scheme to go ahead.
“We are very disappointed about this and we were expecting a scheme for 2012,” he told The Mayo News and explained he only found out about the news after reading it in The Farmers Journal.
“We had been lobbying politicians for the last number of weeks and we were promised it would come. Only last week a politician promised that an AEOS scheme would come in mid 2012. A lot of farmers are totally dependent on it and many will now face going back on social welfare or farming assist.
“REPS 3 was worth €6,000 to farmers and they would have to sell an awful lot of cattle if they are to make up that shortfall. I know the price of cattle is good at the moment but you have to weigh in the increasing costs of feed, fertiliser and fuel and this will be a big blow to farmers.”
Mr Joyce said the IFA will continue to lobby the Minister and the Taoiseach to introduce a scheme for disadvantaged farmers and he feels the department has the money for a scheme.
He said the individual farmers and their families will not be the only people affected by the Ministers decision but also the county as a whole.
“The value of this payment is worth €8.9m to the county and that is €8.9m which will be lost to the county. Farmers generally spend locally and not on foreign holidays,” he said.
Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway-Walsh said government politicians have let small farmers and rural communities down and feels farmers should vote no in the upcoming Fiscal referendum to put pressure on the government.
“I fail to understand why the IFA and ICMSA were so quick to advocate a yes vote for the Fiscal Treaty. This was the one bargaining chip they had to put pressure on the government to re-open the AEOS Scheme and get a fair deal for farmers and for rural Ireland. At this stage, I am asking farmers to make their voices heard and vote No to this treaty,” she said.

HAVE YOUR SAY email antonmcnulty@mayonews.ie with your comments