The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) are calling on Minister McConalogue to extend the closing date for ACRES actions under the Cooperation stream.
With the closing date for NPIs (Non-Productive Investments) this coming Wednesday INHFA Vice-President John Joe Fitzgerald stressed the need to review this date stating that “farmers need to know what their habitat score is in order to make an informed decision on what actions (NPIs) they need to take.”
This, he added, “is a classic case of putting the cart before the horse with farmers being left in the dark with regard to their habitat score but still expected to take on board actions which are designed to improve these habitats.”
While 7,000 farmers have applied for NPI actions as of Sunday the 3rd and we would expect to see this increase Fitzgerald maintains that “this will still be less than half of those in the ACRES Co-Operation and I definitely believe if there was more time then we would get more applicants, especially if they had their habitat score”
Looking ahead it is our understanding, added the INHFA Leader “that these applications will not be assessed until next Spring by which time you would expect all CP farmers to have got their habitat scores. On this basis, it is entirely reasonable to look for an extension and if given then those farmers that have already applied should be given the opportunity to amend their applications especially if different actions can deliver improved results.”
Fitzgerald acknowledged that we are close to the line with regard to the closing date but stressed that last minute extensions have often been given before and reasoned that there is a very strong case for an extension here.
In concluding he expressed major disappointment that farmers have not yet received their habitat assessments and scores stating that “we had always assumed these scores would be with farmers in advance of any closing date for the NPIs.”