Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Regional, Rural, Gaeltacht & Island Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív has called on the Agriculture Minister and the Minister for Regional Development to take action to curb the huge underspends which are being clocked up across various schemes under the Rural Development Programme.

GLAS, TAMS and the Beef Genomics Programme are all running large underspends, despite the fact that we are now half way through the term of the RDP.

“Farmers across Galway and Mayo are losing out on funding as a result of the Government mismanagement of these schemes.  GLAS payments are running at €164m – a fraction of €1.25bn that has been allocated to the programme over the 7 year period.  The situation with TAMS is equally worrying, with the latest figures provided to me revealing that less than 45% of the money has been approved, and shockingly a mere 6% has been paid out to farmers” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

“The high level of bureaucracy involved in the applications acts as a deterrent for many farmers.  €172m has been allocated to the TAMS scheme, however the reality of the situation is that some farmers who have been approved for grants may never draw down the funding, leaving the scheme with an even bigger underspend.  This is money which could be re-directed to other programmes.

“I expressed my concerns about a large RDP underspend when it was first announced and now it looks as if that figure is set to hit €300m, as I predicted.  Despite a series of announcements, the fact of the matter is that many of these schemes are cumbersome to apply for and difficult to implement.

“I would like the Agriculture Minister to mitigate the large underspends facing his Department by redirecting the funding to other programmes, such as the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme.  If funding was increased by €100m per year between 2018 and 2020, the money would be utilised and farmers working on some of the poorest land in the country would benefit.  This would be a major boost to farmers, particularly in the west of Ireland, as well as those on low land, mountains and other designated areas”.