Mulherin challenges Calleary over ‘phantom’ farm scheme

Farmers in Mayo have not received their payments due to them since the back of last year under Agri-Enviro Options Scheme (AEOS ), according to Mayo Fine Gael general election candidate, Councillor Michelle Mulherin.

Cllr Mulherin said that nearly one thousand farmers are affected by the AEOS scheme that Minister Brendan Smith announced with a fanfare in 2010 and promised farmers that they would receive €50 million in 2011. “However, farmers have been contacting the Department of Agriculture offices and they are finding they can't even get an application form for the scheme; nor is it available online,” said Cllr Mulherin

The closing date is May next and some applications are not straight-forward. In the case of NATURA lands, farmers are required to have plans drawn up.

“This is totally unacceptable that hard pressed farmers who have already paid for feed, fertiliser and the cost of diesel which has rocketed, are being left in the lurch.”

The Cllr said that: “In the midst of the uproar when it was announced that REPS would be phased out and discontinued,  the AEOS Scheme was heralded as the solution by our local Minister Dara Calleary TD, who made a big deal about looking after farmers. But where is that commitment now? What is happening; is this a phantom scheme?”

The Fine Gael candidate concluded: “I am calling on Minister Calleary to be straight with farmers. Let them know where they stand and to immediately pay to farmers what they are well and truly due.”

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