Hill Farming Reports

Hill Farming Council Report February 2024

Hill Farming
  1. Scheme Update 


  • Delays to ACRES CP applicants has been completely unacceptable. Target payment date was always end-November 2023, however on Dec 6th, DAFM announced c.27,800 (c.60%) will not receive payment until Feb ‘24 at the earliest.  
  • IFA wrote to Minister and proposed a number of options; 
  • Issue 85% advance payments (Dec 18th) to all; Correct using balancing payment; 
  • Allocate indicative scores (per Section 16.4 of T&C’s) in Year 1 for Commonages, and all scorable measures. Use balancing payments to correct as necessary;  
  • Give full payment in Year 1 (ACRES General – €7.3k; ACRES Co-Operation – €10.5k), and progressively correct in subsequent years; 
  • An Interest payment – equivalent to 1% per day from 30th Nov until receipt of ACRES payment – should be provided to compensate for any delay. 
  • DAFM confirmed at a recent meeting that advance core ACRES Co-Operation payments to commence from end Feb 2024 
  • No commitment on % of ACRES CP applicants would receive payment.  
  • IFA emphasised need for urgency and financial challenges delays causing, particularly for CP farmers 
  • Details re individual scoring to be made available to farmers, via AgFood, once payments made 
  • Applications for Non-Productive Investments closed Dec 6th  
  • 4.5k herds applied for NPIs (c.44k actions). Screening process ongoing  
  • List of Landscape Actions to open for application next year 
  • Tranche 2 closed for applications Dec 13th. Approx 9,200 farmers applied for c.4,000 places if 50,000 limit maintained. 70 : 30 split across scheme applications – ACRES General : ACRES Co-Operation 
  • IFA insist that all farmers interested in getting into ACRES should be accommodated. All farmers interested in an agri-environment scheme must be accommodated. The Minister must exert his influence his influence within Government to find the necessary funding to ensure this happens. 

Walks Scheme 

  • Following IFA lobbying, an expansion of the Walks Scheme from 80 to 150 trails in the next 2 years was announced by Minister for Rural & Community Development, Heather Humphreys. 
  • Funding of €2.4m has been allocated to the expansion of the scheme and will bring the number of farmers/landowners on the Walks Scheme to 2,500. 
  • To date, 68 trails brought onto scheme (administered by 20 Local Development Companies), involving 2,357 participants/landowners. 1 at final stage of joining scheme. Work is progressing on remaining 11 trails 
  • The closing date for receipt of applications to the Walks Scheme was originally June 23rd 2023, but was extended to October 20th, 2023.  
  • 63 EOIs across 17 counties were received. Also included 2 offshore islands, across 19 LDCs, including Wexford LDC. 2 new counties in Monaghan and Wexford. The final decision on the trails has been sent forward for submission for approval. 
  • One of the recommendations of the Walks Scheme Review was an MOU between the LDCs and the community groups to set out the various roles and responsibilities and improve their relationship as we further expand the Walks Scheme. The group has now concluded its work and an MOU has been developed 
  1. Activity since last Council 
  • Latest meeting of IFA National Hill Committee took place on 1st February in the Irish Farm Centre 
  • IFA attended a meeting of the Wild Atlantic Nature Steering Committee  
  • Attended Teagasc Uplands Symposium in Co. Mayo 
  • Met with Comhairle na Tuaithe on November 23rd in Athlone 
  • Participated in a number of Comhairle Subgroups, including Responsible Behaviour in the Outdoors, Sustainable Uplands Recreation Subgroup 
  • Provided feedback on Comhairle/ DHLGH documents e.g Outdoor Event Guidelines, Responsible Dog Control Leaflets for Dog Owners 
  • Attended a meeting of the Peatlands Council in Dublin  
  1. Upcoming events 
  • Comhairle na Tuaithe meeting on 22nd February  
  • Sustainable Uplands Recreation Subgroup 
  • Submission to Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan  

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