Hill Farming Reports

Hill Farming Council Report May 2024

Scheme Update 


  • Following lobby by IFA, all eligible applications made under Tranche 2 of ACRES were accepted. This includes approx. 2,300 additional farmers to the Co-Operation approach of the scheme.  
  • This brings the total number of farmers participating in the Co-Op areas to over 20,000. The total number participating in ACRES is 55,000, exceeding the 50,000 limits originally outlined in the CSP.  
  • Approvals have begun to issue to successful farmers and are also available to be viewed via Agfood.  
  • On the 9th February, The Minister for Agriculture announced that an interim payment would be paid to participants in Tranche 1 of ACRES who have not yet received their advance payments for participation in the Scheme. An interim payment of €5,000 was made to farmers in CP areas. 
  • Farmers are yet to receive their scores under year 1. DAFM has said that planners are aware of the scores received. Scores will be made available by DAFM when balancing payments have commenced. Average scores for commonage is 6, with 1/3 under grazed and 1/3 overgrazed nationally.  
  • Applications for Non-Productive Investments closed Dec 6th  
  • 4.5k herds applied for NPIs (c.44k actions). Screening process ongoing. IFA have pressed DAFM to issues approvals for NPI’s quickly so that farmers can complete works and receive their payments.  
  • Balancing payments for ACRES T1 participants will commence in June.  

Comhairle na Tuaithe 

  • 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, 69 trails brought onto scheme involving 2,357 participants/landowners. 4 trails are at final stage of joining the Scheme, with workplans with participants to sign. 1 trail with Sport Ireland Work is progressing on the remaining 6 others.   
  • In 2023, 14 trails joined the Walks Scheme with 106 new participants. A total of €2.7 million was paid out to participants, with €134,000 was drawn down in material funding. 
  • Following a meeting held on the 6th March, the decision was taken by farmers in the Binn Sleibhe Mountain Access Project Area to no longer proceed with the project. The required Forum was unable to be established and progress halted due to the lack of interest. Insurance indemnity for landowners on Binn Shléibhe, which had been put in place as part of the Mountain Access Pilot Project, will lapse in August 2024.  As the decision was taken at the meeting on 6th March not to proceed with the Mountain Access Project the Binn Shléibhe area will no longer be covered by this insurance policy when it is being renewed. It is intended that the Mountain Access Project will be open to interested Mountain areas around the country in the coming months as part of the National Outdoor Recreation Strategy and the DRCD has confirmed that the Binn Shléibhe area will be welcome to apply to rejoin the Mountain Access project if they wish to do so at a later stage.  


IFA has raised concerns with the Department that farmers whose land was burned in the spring of 2023 & 2024 should not be penalised.  This burning was in most cases not caused by farmers and without proof, no farmer should have a penalty imposed on them.  There are a number of reviews and appeals currently in progress, which IFA will be working on with farmers over the coming months. IFA will meet with Minister Noonan this month to discuss. 

Activity since last National Council  

  • The IFA Hill Committee met in the Irish Farm Centre on 1st February.  
  • The meeting was attended by Derk McLoughlin, Wild Atlantic Nature LIFE Project Manager & Martin Keating, Project lead for the Sustainable Uplands Recreation Scheme 
  • IFA attended the first Comhairle na Tuaithe meeting of 2024 in Westport House, Co.Mayo  
  • IFA Hill Chair Caillin Conneely highlighted the major difficulties faced by hill sheep farmers to retrieve ewes ahead of lambing due to the ongoing wet weather. The story was covered on newspapers and on Radio One.  
  • IFA continues to engage with Leave No Trace to identify collaboration opportunities for later in the year.  
  • The focus will be on exploring joint initiatives related to dogs, camping, access, and fires, with an aim to advance these areas of collaboration. 

Upcoming events 

  • IFA will meet with Minister of State for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, to discuss issues relating to the NPWS Farm Plan, the Hen Harrier and Burning on the 8th May 
  • IFA will attend a meeting of Comhairle na Tuaithe in Sports Ireland Centre, Dublin on 16th May 
  • IFA will attend a meeting of the Designated Area Monitoring Committee on the 15th May  
  • The next meeting of the IFA Hill Committee will take place on Wednesday 29th May in the Irish Farm Centre  

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