Farmers must not lose out to illegal Fires says INHFA

The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association have hit out at those calling for radical action to discourage wildfires and insisted that farmers must not become collateral damage as we seek to discourage such fires. In discussing the recent fires across Cork and Kerry, President Vincent Roddy pointed to the enormous damage and cost of these fires for farmers in terms of fencing, loss of grazing and other related issues. This Roddy outlined, has led to a high level of stress which has been added to by calls from well-meaning environmentalists to target CAP payments. This he stated “is unacceptable and akin to the owner of a car being banned from driving when their car, which was stolen, was involved in an accident.”

Previously we have, he added “seen farm payments impacted by illegal fires where it was proven that farmers had nothing to do with the fire. This was clearly illustrated in Mayo where a recreational fisherman accidentally lit a mountain and admitted such in court. An accident, that was also accepted by the Judge but unfortunately the landowners on that mountain lost their payments.”

On this basis it is, he continued “vital that everyone thinks before they speak and not to fall into the trap of sensationalising events and blaming farmers for the actions of others. Instead, we should work together to ensure the proper management of the land and to promote sustainable farming practices.”

With regard to illegal burning of land the INHFA President was adamant that this is not something we condone, but it is also vital that we call out the ongoing demonisation of genuine farmers who have nothing to do with these fires.”While indiscriminate burning of land is illegal we must, stressed Roddy “also distinguish between that and controlled burning which is a recognised legitimate agricultural practice. Controlled burning can only occur between the 1st September and the 28th February and involves clear guidelines with notification of the Local Authority, Fire brigade and the NPWS.”

In concluding the INHFA leader stated how, “we must not forget that farmers are the stewards of the land and the environment. They have been managing the land for generations and have a deep understanding of the ecological systems at work. It is unfair and unjust to blame them for the actions of others. We need to work together to promote responsible land management and support our farmers.”