The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) have called on the Government to ensure that all farmers are catered for in this year’s budget citing lack of access to critical schemes as a major issue for many of our members.
In discussing this year’s budget proposals INHFA President Colm O’Donnell stated “how our proposals can deliver for almost 100,000 farmers through short and medium term interventions for our suckler and sheep sectors.”
Key Points of the INHFA’s budget proposals include the following points..
? Suckler beef sector. Last Autumn funding of €6m over 3 years was made available to help develop markets for naturally reared suckler beef. Progress has been made on this and there is potential to expand it which is why the organisation are now seeking additional funding of a further €6m. On direct support they are looking for an additional €60m for the BEEP-S Programme in 2022 to deliver an overall budget of €100m in 2022. This is in addition to the BDGP which the Government committed to rolling over for two years in last year’s budget.
? Sheep sector. Here they are calling for the doubling of the budget for the Sheep Welfare Scheme. This with an updated reference year can deliver a payment of €20 on each ewe. In relation to developing an Irish Woolen Industry they have outlined details relating to R&D funding with a budget request of €3m.
? Agri-environmental schemes. With GLAS being rolled over for the coming year the INHFA have requested that up to €100m be made available for a one year Agri-environmental scheme to accommodate the many farmers currently frozen out of GLAS and the new REAP.
? Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) There is a call here for an increased budget allocation of €25m to deliver a total budget of €275m. This will see increased payments for all qualifying farmers and deliver a maximum payment of €5,000.
? Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss are two issues that will dominate for the foreseeable future as new proposals to address this could see an increase in the area of land designated. Currently farmers with these designations have shouldered an unfair burden which must be addressed. At EU level the cost of this burden is assessed at €150/ha/year and if the State is serious about a just transition they should provide a budget of €120m/year to pay farmers/landowners affected.
? Forestry. On this the INHFA are seeking a dramatic change in policy that will end state funding for multi-nationals and pension funds. This can be done by ensuring afforestation scheme funds are instead only used to encourage genuine farmers to plant a portion of their holdings with commercial broadleaf or native woodlands. A policy change such as this would need to ensure it is attractive to all farmers. In doing so all farmers can make a positive contribution to biodiversity and climate change.
The INHFA leader concluded by outlining how the organisation have also made proposals around tax reform where they have prioritized measures around farm safety. In addition to this we have, he stated “sought changes to the Farm Assist Scheme and proposed increasing the number of places in the Rural Social Scheme and ending the six year cap on participation.”
The full budget submission can be viewed by clicking the link below…