A strong call for the new Government to address the severe income crisis affecting hill farmers and came from a meeting of the Hill Farming Committee this week.
The Committee set out a number of key issues that must be dealt with by the next Minister for Agriculture.
Chairman Pat Dunne pointed out that Teagasc farm income data for hill farmers is the lowest of all sectors and that hill farmers are heavily dependent on direct payments. Over the last number of years cutbacks to various schemes have hit hill farmers disproportionately.
He said the next Minister must increase ANC payments for Hill areas, remove the €5,000 limit on GLAS, and establish a special Knowledge transfer programme for hill sheep and a targeted payment for hill sheep of at least €20 per ewe. Increased standard costings are also needed for TAMS funding for sheep when it is reintroduced.
Commonage and GLAS
With Commonage Management Plans due to be completed over the next number of months, Pat Dunne pointed out that it is vital that these are implemented in a flexible and practical way. With nearly 7,000 commonage farmers having joined GLAS and a further 3,000 to join from AEOS later in the year, IFA will be demanding that farmers are given sufficient time to meet the requirements of their GLAS plan.
In relation to eligible land Pat Dunne has called for the new CAP simplification rules to apply in 2016. Also the issue of retrospective penalties must also be dealt with.