Ministerial team must protect ALL family farm models – INHFA

In welcoming the announcement of Barry Cowen as new Minister for Agriculture and Pippa Hackett as Super Junior and wishing them well in their new portfolios, the President of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association Colm O’Donnell stressed the importance of protecting ALL family farm models which he stated “has been the mainstay of agriculture and our rural communities for the last hundred years.”

In recent times there has he stated “been a drive to increase farm size and the level of production which has not delivered in terms of improved income for farmers and the wider rural economy.”

In addition to this we have he continued “seen a drive for more forestry in many western counties to off-set the Green House Gas emissions from other sectors. Also through current CAP proposals and the EU Biodiversity Strategy we could be looking at further restrictions on extensive farming practices and farmers currently farming on blanket bogs and reclaimed peatlands.”

As both Ministers take up their portfolios it is he maintained “vital that they ensure no farmer or sector of farming is sacrificed for what some may perceive as the greater good. Both Ministers should be aware of the predominance of peat soils in Offaly and will we hope see the immediate danger that some of the outlined proposals could have in Offaly and many other counties especially from Donegal to Kerry.”

In concluding the INHFA leader outlined how the coming five years could be the most momentous time in farming since we joined the Common Market as we set the parameters for farming and our rural communities to 2050. For this reason, it is he stated “critical that we get it right, for our farmers, their communities and the country as a whole and the INHFA are willing to proactively engage and play our part in this.”