The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has refused to consider proposals from Donegal Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill for a more practical approach to the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS). The Minister has also refused to budge on the possibility of opening a new scheme this year for farmers coming off REPS 3.
Senator Ó Domhnaill, Fianna Fáil’s Seanad Spokesperson on Agriculture, appealed to Minister Coveney to consider amending the terms and conditions of AEOS to make the criteria more flexible and make the scheme more workable for farmers. However, the Minister has refused to take the proposals on board.
Senator Ó Domhnaill told us: “There has been a huge increase in the number of appeals from farmers to AEOS decisions. The Minister has confirmed to me in response to questions that despite this surge in appeals, just a handful have been upheld.
“Meanwhile, I have spoken to so many farmers in my own constituency in Donegal who are suffering losses as a result and are struggling to understand why, given their need for State support. They are now completely at a loss as the Minister refuses to budge on the criteria and refuses to reopen the scheme this year, despite all his promises after coming into power.’
He added: “It is becoming increasingly obvious that Minister Coveney’s main priority is protecting large, wealthy farmers at the expense of smaller farmers who are in greater need of support. I am extremely disappointed that the Minister has failed to take my very practical suggestions on board that would make a real difference to smaller farmers at very little extra expense to the State.”