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The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has not moved on any of the recommendations made by the independent review group on appeals, according to IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy.

It’s two years since the publication of the report of the Agriculture Appeals Act Review Committee.

Richard Kennedy said it was established in response to genuine concerns about the appeals system.

The Committee established by the Minister acknowledged the need for change, making several significant recommendations including the establishment of an Agricultural Appeals Review Panel with an Independent Chair.

“The Minister must ensure the recommendations are implemented so that farmers can have confidence in the appeals system, and that their cases will be dealt with fairly, impartially and efficiently,” he said.

The recommendations were also passed by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture and the expectation was that the Minister would implement the conclusions.

Richard Kennedy also pointed out that this review was part of the Programme for Government and it must be implemented before the dissolution of the Dáil.

IFA National Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has said the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed must secure the extension of GLAS 1 & 2 for the 36,000 farmers whose contract expires at the end of the year.

He said, “Proposed draft regulations to extend the current CAP until 1st Jan 2022 means that agri-environmental schemes must also be extended, otherwise farmers in the GLAS scheme will be at a significant financial loss next year. This is unacceptable”.

At a recent meeting with the Department of Agriculture, IFA emphasised the need for such an extension and were told by officials that it was possible.  The same can also apply to TAMS, BDGP, and the KT programme.

The IFA Rural Development Chairman also urged the Minister to reopen GLAS for young farmers and new entrants who have commenced farming since the scheme closed in 2016.

“There is scope in the 2014 – 2020 Rural Development Programme for this as it provides for 50,000 farmers in the scheme (currently there are 48,500 farmers participating). The remaining places should be offered to new entrants under the same conditions as the existing scheme.”

Joe Brady also pointed out that farmers with Natura land who are not in GLAS or a locally led scheme have no compensation scheme available to them. Farmers who were in AEOS (but not GLAS) should also be allowed into a reopened GLAS scheme.

In relation to 2019 GLAS payments, the Department has indicated that 45,500 farmers have received their 85% advance payment worth €163m. IFA is calling for all outstanding payments, including the 15% balancing payment, to made without delay.  €41m is due to GLAS farmers in respect of the 2019 scheme.

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.

IFA SAC Project Chairman Padraic Joyce has welcomed the €1m announcement in yesterday’s Budget for the Farm Plan Scheme. However, this must be seen as a stepping stone to a much broader scheme to address the serious impact of land designations on farmers.

At a recent meeting with Heritage Minister Josepha Madigan in advance of the Budget, IFA called on her to properly compensate farmers for restrictions imposed on them with designated Natura land, through the reopening of the NPWS Farm Plan. This Budget move is the first recognition for some time that farmers have a burden on their land which must be compensated for.

“We have been in discussions with her Department for the past 18 months, with a deal yet to be finalised.  Critical to any agreement with Government is a package of measures including the re-opening of the NPWS farm plan scheme, which has been closed since 2010. The Budget decision should now allow this to happen,” he said.

“While a final agreement with the Department is close, the main issue for Minister Madigan is a meaningful compensation scheme for farmers affected by designations. The announcement in yesterday’s Budget must now result in the reopening of the NPWS farm plan scheme,” he said.

Padraic Joyce pointed out that there has some progress made in the talks on conciliation and arbitration to determine losses; the principle of payment for the provision of ecosystem services; a claims process where a farmer is refused consent to carry out activities on their land; and a commitment to conclude the Hen Harrier threat response plan.

Many of these issues have been dragging on for 18 months, since talks commenced on a new agreement on procedures and compensation arrangements for farmers with designated land.   However, the Minister must now get these issues over the line.

IFA President Joe Healy said the Department of Agriculture CAP analysis published today does not show the full impact of the CAP proposals as it omits the impact of the €97m per annum cut which is part of the current EU Commission proposal. This amounts to €678m for the seven years of the CAP programme, before the impact of inflation.

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