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IFA National Hill Farming Committee Chairman Flor McCarthy has welcomed the announcement today by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring of 10 new walkways involving 238 farmers.

He said the addition of the routes in the National Walks Scheme will increase recreational tourism in peripheral areas.

“We want to see local development companies came forward with a further 30 walkways, to ensure that the extra €2m provided is fully utilised.”

IFA has consistently pointed out the value of this scheme, not just for farmers, but also to the wider rural community and economy.

He concluded by saying that some of the lands included would be considered marginal land and any opportunity to boost farm incomes is welcome.

Lifting continues this week for growers who have crop remaining in the ground. Conditions remain very difficult which will contribute to high losses. Frost conditions will also add to the amount of unsaleable crop. Most crops remaining in the ground are in the South East of the country with some growers reporting figures of around 12% of their crop left to be harvested.

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Sheep Factory Quotes c/kg including VAT
Factory December 03rd Ewes Spring Lamb
Dawn Ballyhaunis Tuesday 260 475+10QA
ICM Camolin Tuesday 260 475+10QA
ICM Navan Tuesday 260 475+10QA
Kepak Athleague Tuesday 260 475+15QA
Kildare Chilling Tuesday 260+10QA 490+10QA
Moyvalley Meats Tuesday 490

There was no change in quotes from processors last Friday for this week’s pigs, with Rosderra, Dawn Pork & Bacon, Staunton’s and Kepak all remaining on quotes of €1.94-196c/kg for this supplier. Spot loads and some of the more home market focused factories have given up to €1.98c/kg this week to secure pigs.

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IFA Renewable Energy Project Team Leader Tom Short said the Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) will exclude the meaningful participation of farm scale projects in renewable electricity generation.

“It’s clear from Government actions to date that they are only interested in supporting mega wind projects which for the most part will be built offshore and to a lesser extent large solar. These mega projects will be predominantly owned by major international companies and large international investor/hedge funds. Unfortunately, they will create minimal local employment once they are built out and are of limited benefit to local farmers and rural communities as profits in the main will be repatriated to the fund owners who reside outside Ireland.”

“The bar for participation has been set too high. Essentially, farm projects will have to compete in an auction system against mega wind and large solar that can afford to meet performance security requirements i.e. on-demand bond of €25,000/MW. If farmers want to participate, the maximum project size is limited to 5MW. However, they must relinquish majority ownership (51%) of the project to communities where the primary purpose is community benefit (environmental, economic or social) rather than financial profit. In essence, the farmer can only retain a 49% share which can be profit driven.”

Mr Short said, “The EU clearly recognises that the generation of renewable energy is more expensive than that from fossil fuels. Without financial incentives, the market will not deliver the required level of renewable energy. EU state aid rules allow for the introduction of national support schemes to overcome this market failure, including the introduction of tiered support measures. However, the Irish auction system favours big wind to the exclusion of smaller farm scale projects”.

“Farmers are willing to invest in renewable energy projects. Government policy initiatives to date fall considerably short of driving the commercial development of farm scale renewable energy projects. The inadequate provision of capital grant aid and ongoing operational supports undermines the long-term financial viability of many of these projects to the extent that commercial banks have no interest in funding them.”

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