Hill Farmers concerns to be raised in Dáil

I will be raising the concerns of Mayo Hill Farmers in a Topical Issues Debate in the Dáil this afternoon, Wednesday 17 September.The origins of the issues causing stress and anguish to Hill Farmers lies in the Department’s proposals for the new GLAS Environmental Scheme.

“Hill Farmers throughout Ireland but particularly in the West are so incensed by the move that they have gone so far as to accuse the IFA of selling them out with anger levels so high that 1700 people gathered an emergency meeting in Westport on 17 July.

“The Hill Farmers are totally opposed to a Collective Agreement on the Commonages. A 50% collective agreement and a payment of €79 per hectare on Natura Land has been agreed by the Department and IFA. This is almost half of the €150/ha that was agreed by European Commission as the cost of Natura designations.

“This is a totally unworkable situation:

 

  • Commonage farmers will require 50pc agreement between themselves and their neighbours in order to gain priority access to GLAS according to what is now proposed by Minister Coveney and agreed to by the IFA leadership.

 

  • They will have to agree on one planner to do up the plan for all of them on that particular commonage. If, as is often the case, they have shares in more than one commonage another planner will be required. Most farmers will probably also require another adviser to do up a plan for the remainder of their farm.

 

  • Commonage farmers say this is unworkable, and discriminates against them as a group.

 

  • This draft proposal also assumes that there will be enough planners interested in handling commonage plans, which is highly unlikely now that Teagasc are no longer doing agri-environmental plans.

 

  • With all of this uncertainty many farmers will find it very difficult, or even impossible, to join GLAS.

 

 

  • Other obvious flaws in the proposal relate to ownership rights. For example,  appurtenant rights as opposed to free-hold rights. This will have implications if you want to abdicate your commonage ownership or rent it out.

 

  • There are also farmers that are presently in AEOS who may not want to transfer to the GLAS scheme. Can other farmers go ahead with a collective agreement without them or do they have to wait?

 

  • Surely farmers cannot be their brother’s keepers? For example there is a need for farmers to keep a commonage in good agricultural and environmental condition –how can he be held responsible for the shortcomings of other shareholders.

“I will be calling upon Minister Coveney to completely remove the Collective Agreement clause from the new qualifying regulations.”Hill farm