Activity since last National Council
- The Hill Committee met with the Department of Agriculture on June 11th to press for an extension of GLAS under EU transitional rules.
- With a GLAS extension being sought, the Hill committee got a commitment that the current arrangements the commonage plans would continue, and that payments would be maintained. IFA insisted that there would be no extra costs imposed on farmers including planning costs.
CAP post 2020
- The Hill committee policy is that in the context of new environmental requirements that designated areas qualify for the new eco-scheme.
- Also, in the context of carbon sequestration the last Hill committee agreed that a value be put on the extent that blanket bogs contribute to the environment and public good.
Locally Led Schemes.
- At the recent meeting with the Department, IFA got an update on the locally led schemes, 9 of which are in Hill areas.
- With all schemes now up and running, IFA got an assurance that the full allocation of €70m would be used up.
- Payments are being made to all schemes, with €0.5m being paid out recently as part of the bonus payment in Hen Harrier areas.,
- The Locally led schemes, of which 9 operate in Hill and Mountain areas, are worth around €10m per year.
- IFA will be looking for many of these schemes to be extended and mainstreamed in the next CAP.
- Following the increased allocation of €0.5m for the NPWS farm plan scheme, IFA has been pressing for an early start up.
- The Scheme was advertised on the NPWS website and applications were invited. It is available to all farmers in designated areas.
- 95 applications were received. These applications were assessed based on priority, habitat and species targeted, whether site was in a designated area, the significance of the site locally, regionally and nationally.
- 78 applications were deemed of sufficient standard to take forward plans. Of these, 49 plans will be rolled out. The details of these plans have yet to be finalised.
- An NPWS farm planner selection will take place, to be followed by draft plans being submitted.
- IFA has called for the plans to be meaningful, with farmers getting payments which relate to restrictions and work to be carried out.
- While payments initially will be small, IFA sees the introduction of the Scheme, which has been closed since 2010, as a stepping stone to full restoration of the Scheme.
- With the new Government due to be formed, IFA will be pressing for a commitment that the NPWS farm plan scheme is fully restored.
- Also, as part of IFA’s pre-Budget submission, we will be seeking that €10m is provided to the NPWS Farm Plan scheme for 2021.
- In relation to the agreement on SAC implementation, there has been no further meeting as legal clarification was required by NPWS on aspects surrounding conciliation, arbitration and instances where compensation is being claimed.
- IFA has raised concerns with the Department that farmers whose land was burned in April are not penalised.
- This burning was in most cases not caused by farmers and unless the Department have proof then no farmer should have their payments withheld.
- This issue will be monitored closely over the coming months.
Cochaired na Tuaithe
- At a recent meeting of Comhaire na Tuaithe, a number of issues were dealt with including:
- A review of the membership of CnaT. is currently taking place.
- IFA will be insisting on strong farmer representation.
- On dog control IFA is insisting that no dogs are allowed on trails.
- A new countryside code is been developed with a booklet for all user of trails. IFA input is vital as some of the recreational bodies want greater freedom to roam.
- A review of the walks scheme is also being undertaken.
- The new Programme for Government commits to increase the number of walks.
- 10 new walks are now included in the Walk Scheme as part of an extension which was secured by IFA in the Budget. This involves an additional 285 farmers.
- The 10 new trails included in the first phase of the expanded Walks Scheme are:
|Name of Trail
|No. of landowners (approx.)
|Length on private land (approx.)
|East Clare Way
|Gathabawn Loop Walk
|Kilmacoliver Loop Walk
|Binninea Walk Cullahill
|Keash Hill Trail
|St Kevin’s Way
- In Budget 2021 IFA will be insisting that the allocation of €4m is allocated and spent fully.
- Currently there are 2,000 farmers in the Scheme, and with the additional walks this will increase to 4,000 and will be worth €4m annually.
- National Hill Committee Meeting. Aug 2020.