The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) have taken issue with recent commentary by some environmental groups and NGOs with regard to the role of sheep in upland farming.
Speaking on this National President Vincent Roddy outlined his concerns regarding suggestions by these groups that sheep, who they maintain are not native to Ireland are unsuitable for upland areas and should be removed. This stated Roddy “is a bridge too far and something that all farmers especially those on our hills will find deeply disturbing.”
In managing our hills and upland areas it is he continued “vital that we recognise how these areas are managed landscapes with sheep being the primary management tool.”
As we head into a new CAP cycle and a new Agri-Environment Programme the INHFA President encouraged all hill farmers to question those that will be involved in drafting their AECM Plans with regard to their views on hill sheep farming and ensure they are supportive of this age long practice.
This he added “is something the INHFA will also be doing both with Farm advisors and those involved in managing and delivering on the eight Co-operation Stream areas.
It is stressed the INHFA President “vital that this thinking is challenged and refuted at every opportunity. Otherwise we will find ourselves in a similar situation to the ongoing view expressed on cattle and our suckler herd with regard to methane and the perceived damage they are doing to the environment.”
He concluded by reminding those advocating for the rewilding of our hills of their own failures and cited their advice to remove cattle from the Burren, only to discover that cattle had a vital role in maintaining this unique habitat. “In a similar way sheep have a vital role in protecting our upland habitats which are managed landscapes and it would be totally reckless to make a similar mistake here.”