Submission from the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association on the proposed Agri-Environment Results Based Pilot Project

In our assessment of the Consultation document there were aspects we found vague, for example; what is a ‘whole field’ approach and how results are scored? On this basis, we believe that more detail is needed on how the reward structure will work with due consideration given to rewarding existing good practice. In relation to opportunity foregone, consideration must be given to those farmers whose activities have already been restricted by the imposition of designations. Notwithstanding this, we welcome aspects of the proposal such as recognition and valuing of existing habitats, the emphasis on better education for both the farmer and DAFM personnel and the willingness to create a fair market for environmental services.

Position Our environment is under threat. Our farming population is under threat. We are in danger of losing arguably the more environmentally benign extensive farmer to an increasingly large-scale intensive form of agriculture. This will bring further pressure on our environment and culture. Protection of the environment is restrictive and takes much work, if Irish and European governments wish to embed real environmental protection they must engage in a fair transaction with farmers and reward this work properly.