Vincent Roddy a native of Ballaghaderreen Co Roscommon is the new President of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA). His election was ratified at the organisations National AGM which was held in Jacksons Hotel, Ballybofey, Co Donegal last Thursday.
Roddy will lead a new team consisting of two new Vice Presidents in Pheilim Molloy from Donegal and Micheal McDonnell from Mayo and will also be joined by Sharon Cosgrove (Mayo) as National Secretary and Hugh Gallagher (Sligo) as National Treasurer.
In his first address as National President Roddy focused heavily on the current CAP reform, Climate Change and ongoing issues confronting farmers with Land Designations.
With regard to CAP the new President reiterated the organisations call for full flattening of Pillar 1 payments through 100% convergence and a front-loaded payment to help support small holders. This he stated “recognises how these policies will not alone deliver in terms of equal payment for the same conditions but will also provide the best means of protecting the greatest number of farmers.”
On Pillar 2 payments he called for an annual budget increase of at least €250m to deliver an overall budget of at least €850m. This he maintained is the minimum needed to deliver the required support for our suckler and sheep sectors while also providing an adequate budget to facilitate and support all farmers looking to join the new Agri-environmental scheme.
When discussing climate change and specifically proposals made by the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) to reduce the suckler herd due to its lack of profitability. He queried their suitability in pointing the finger of blame at our suckler cows adding that their role should be “to assess emissions and their impact based on science and not whether the sector was profitable or not.”
In concluding on this point relating to our suckler sector he asked the CCAC to revisit this and provide an updated view based entirely on science. He stressed that “if this is done, I am confident that the suckler sector with its extensive farming systems will no longer be viewed as an ongoing threat in the battle against climate change.”
Continuing on the issue of climate change and proposals around a just transition the INHFA President stated how there will be a cost to farmers as they aim to deliver on targets set for their sector.
This cost he maintained “will be seen through loss of agricultural output resulting in lower profits, additional regulation and additional labour costs. And how do we know this, because farmers operating on our designated habitats namely SAC’s and SPA’s have lived with these costs for the past 20 years.”
Unfortunately, these farmers are “still waiting for a just transition as they struggle with the 39 Notifiable Actions that undermines their farming activity and profit.”
In a direct plea to Minister McConalogue who attended on the day he stressed the need to address this issue and help build trust with the farming community and was hopeful that the Minister and Government can see the problem here.
In concluding on this Roddy pointed to the value of these designated lands to the Irish economy which he stated “based on the EU Nature Fitness Check is delivering €2.5b each year that translates into €3,000ha. Unfortunately, he added “for our farmers the only payment available to them is €79ha but they have to join GLAS for this.”