IFA National Hill Farming Chairman Flor McCarthy has welcomed the announcement by Minister Heather Humphreys that 31 new walking trails will be added to the National Walks Scheme. Funding for new Rural Recreation Officers was also announced.
The National Walks Scheme has been critical to developing recreational tourism in peripheral areas and supports farmers in creating walking routes. When completed, these 31 new trails will bring the total number included in the scheme to 80, in line with the Programme for Government commitment.
The additional trails will include 400 extra farmers, increasing the number to 2,400 nationally.
Flor McCarthy said, “We are calling on Minister Humphreys to allocate more funding in Budget 2022 to continue to expand this scheme to 150 trails, and to increase the labour rate for farmers who maintain the walks. This increase must apply to both existing and new participants, including farmers in the middle of their current contracts”.
“The appointment of up to eight new Rural Recreation Officer posts is also welcome. These must be filled without delay to ensure staff are in place to work with farmers and landowners on the new trails.”
On the National Indemnification Scheme, the IFA Hill Farming Chairman welcomed the launch of pilot insurance legislation to cover landowners in the event of an accident. The pilot covers two Mountain Access Project areas – Ben Sleibhe in Co Galway and the MacGillycuddy Reeks in Co Kerry.
He said, “This pilot must be rolled out nationally to ensure that farmers and landowners are safeguarded against any claim that may arise”.