The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) have presented a pre budget submission to Minister for Agriculture Mr Michael Creed.Commenting after the meeting,INHFA president Colm O’Donnell said “that it had been a very positive engagement between the INHFA delegation and the Minister”.
During the course of the meeting the INHFA pointed out that promises agreed in the program for Government must be honoured particularly in relation to the 25 million additional funding for the ANC Scheme due for payout in 2018. The rates of payment are set based on standard output figures per hectare produced from Central Statistics Office (CSO) data where it shows a massive difference between the two categories as illustrated below;
Mountain Sheep Grazing (MSG) area’s standard output/ha is 83.64 euros per hectare.
Lowland more severely handicapped areas standard output/ha is 748.56 euros per hectare.
Similarly the need for a full spend of the 25 million for the Sheep welfare scheme already committed to the Sheep sector.
A discussion on the desperately poor prices for light hill lambs and complete lack of markets was acknowledged by the Minister and a commitment was given to channel resources towards this sector to support ongoing efforts by the INHFA to establish an outlet for light hill lambs.
An assurance was given that any farmers who genuinely experience severe hardship or animal welfare issues as a direct result of the unprecedented storms and rainfall levels on their farms will be assisted in a timely manner by the DAFM through protocols put in place to deal with this type of situation.
The INHFA also submitted proposals as regards ways of tacking the high incidents of farm fatalities on Irish Farms and policies on best safety practice going forward.
Also problems arising around the huge increase in Rural crime were also highlighted .
Concluding Mr. O Donnell stated that the INHFA had made the Minister aware of the formal notification to landowners with SAC designated lands that these lands have been ratified as European Sites which devalues and sterilizes these lands going forward.Currently the Rural Development Program (RDP) through Glas has a measure in place for the management of privately owned Natura farmland and that there must now be a similar measure put in place for all non private Natura farmland.