The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association have called on acting Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to provide a derogation for Hill farmer’s under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). This call has being made as a result of proposed changes on controlled burning not being passed by the Dail as a result of the calling of the General Election last January.
The proposed changes would have seen the dates for controlled burning being extended to the 31st of March.
INHFA spokesperson on Designations and the Environment Shaunie Boyle outlined how weather conditions up to the end of February were not suitable for controlled burning but there were two weeks in March which were ideal.
Unfortunately stated Mr Boyle ” Hill Farmers were not allowed to carry out what is an acceptable agricultural activity on hills because of the calling of the General Election”.
The INHFA proposal for a derogation would see areas identified for controlled burning by hill farmer’s included as part of their 2016 claimed reference area for the BPS.
Mr Boyle added that “for many hill farmers it was quite frustrating to watch lowland farmers take advantage of good drying conditions in mid March to top land, spread slurry and prepare land for cultivation while hill farmer’s were restricted in carrying out actions that would have regenerated hill areas for the coming grazing season”
Mr Boyle concluded by stating that “a derogation as outlined is essential and in the interests of fairness Minister Coveney needs to deliver on this”.