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IFA National Hill Farming Chairman Flor McCarthy said the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Culture Josepha Madigan has to allow the managed burning of gorse in March.

“The Minister has to take account of how farmers manage their hill land responsibly and where land is burned, it is done in a managed way,” he said.

While the focus has been on farmland that has been flooded, there is another consequence of the heavy rainfall in the last month. Hill farmers who had planned to manage their holdings have not been able to do so.

The weather conditions for burning are not the same throughout the country and putting a blanket ban to burning in March would be a retrograde step.

Allowing it to go ahead would demonstrate an understanding of the practical issues farmers face in managing their hill farms.

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.

The 2019 IFA National Hill Sheep Forum is taking place in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow on Thursday 5th September.

IFA National Hill Committee Chairman, Flor McCarthy, said that the Forum and farm visit will provide hill sheep farmers with a great opportunity to get the latest updates across a broad range of relevant issues from commonages and CAP policy to the latest on production and marketing of hill lamb.

It will address how hill farmers can capitalise on the unique environment they farm in, given the increased requirements being asked of farmers in the areas of climate action and biodiversity.

Flor McCarthy said IFA has organised a top-class range of speakers for the Forum. The event will kick off with a farm visit at 2.30pm to the farm of Denis Halpin, Hollywood, West Wicklow (assemble @ Hollywood Community Centre, Co. Wicklow).

At 6pm, the crowd will assemble in Glendalough Hotel, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, A98 X9C1, for a meeting which will cover both hill sheep policy, production and marketing.

On policy, the meeting will be addressed by Joe Healy, IFA President, Department of Agriculture official Niall Ryan; IFA National Sheep Chairman, Sean Dennehy and Eileen McCloskey, Dept. of Environment and Rural Affairs N.I.

In addition, Michael Gottstein from Teagasc will provide the latest research and advice on hill sheep production and feeding and James Smith, Irish Country Meats will discuss the market prospects.

Flor McCarthy said all hill sheep farmers from across the country are very welcome to attend.

The full programme is available here.

IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy said the Irish sheep sector is a very important farming enterprise with 35,000 farmers and an output of €390m.

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IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy said the lamb trade has improved slightly this week with farmers getting €5.50/kg and top prices of €5.60/kg paid. He said lambs remain very scarce and farmers should negotiate hard on both price and weights.

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