The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association have expressed major concerns on the introduction of scorecard which will feature strongly in assessing habitat status in the new Agri-Environmental & Climate Measure Scheme.
This concern has been outlined by the Association in their submission to the DAFM on Ireland’s Draft CAP Strategic Plan this week.
National President Vincent Roddy explained the concerns. “The AECM Co-operation element which will be available to commonage farmers will, we understand, pay farmers based primarily on a results-based model. This is a model that has already been used in the EIP’s and REAP and rewards farmers (through a scorecard running from 1 to 10) for the status of the habitat. Currently no payment is made if the score given is less than four and obviously the closer it gets to ten the higher the payment.
For farmers on commonage land where they don’t have full control of the plot the scoring of the commonage will not be just dependent on their actions, but will be subject to the actions of all other farmers on that commonage and this will create a problem.
On smaller commonages where all farmers join and agree a mechanism to protect and improve the habitat then the scorecard may not be too problematic. However, on larger commonages or where some farmers choose not to join the new AECM rewarding farmers through a scorecard is a non-runner and the uptake will reflect this.
A solution to this could be the inclusion of a grazing measure as currently applied through GLAS. If this action is chosen then it is vital that the payment rate for the measure is attractive enough on its own for farmers to consider joining. A measure-based payment such as this will provide certainty to farmers as the payment rate would need to be outlined in advance. A top-up payment could then be added through a results-based scheme.”