The announcement by the Minister to include additional measures in the eco-scheme has been welcomed by INHFA President Vincent Roddy.
Speaking on the announcement Mr Roddy stated “how the inclusion of the three additional measures in conjunction to changes made on the existing five measures will ensure the scheme is available to all farmers. While welcoming the changes the INHFA leader also cautioned “that all measures outlined will have a financial impact on farmers through reduced output, additional costs and restrictive regulation. This is why farmers need a minimum payment of at least €63/ha which can be delivered through the 25% Pillar 1 budget allocation.”
In addressing the additional three measures, Roddy pointed to the measure on soil sampling and liming as the one that may be of most benefit to many suckler and sheep farmers, especially on our lowlands. For hill farmers, changes to the additional options could, he maintained be much more important. On this he stated “how farmers will have the ability to deliver on their eco-scheme measures through the flexibility that rewards them for going beyond specific requirements.”
With this flexibility applying to the space for nature measure, there is added the INHFA President “a strong possibility that some farmers could deliver their overall eco-scheme requirement through this measure, especially if designated natura land is included here.”
This continued the INHFA President “is an option we have been pushing the Minister and his officials on. With farmers on these lands forced to comply with 38 activities requiring consent, there is a very strong case for these lands to be included as part of this measure.” We are, he added, “confident that this can now happen.”
On additional flexibilities and clarifications Roddy welcomed consultation by the Department with the EU Commission to allow farmers who choose the native tree option the choice to plant all trees in the first year. This he stated “was a proposal we had made to the Department as it makes practical sense in terms of fencing.”
In addition to this he saw merit in the proposal to allow farmers to plant hedgerow instead of native trees which he maintained “could be beneficial to farmers in terms of shelter for livestock.”
In concluding he added “how the organisation continues to work with the Minister and his officials to ensure that all farmers who are willing to deliver on the environmental requirements through this scheme are accommodated and adequately rewarded.”