IFA Hill Committee Chairman Pat Dunne has said that progress has been made on the Commonage Management Plans, whereby when planners are doing stocking plans over the next number of months, they will not have to determine the maximum eligible area.
At an IFA Hill Committee meeting in Portlaoise today, which was attended by the Department of Agriculture, Pat Dunne said the Department’s earlier proposal that planners do the MEA on commonages was unreasonable as it was effectively asking them to do the job of the Department of Agriculture. In addition it would have added to the planning costs of commonage farmers.
Pat Dunne said it was important that the process to commence commonage plans was done immediately and that the online system which had been promised for some time be made available. “Commonage plans will be completed by the end of the year and IFA has sought the maximum flexibility in determining the minimum and maximum levels of stocking in the implementation of GLAS in hill areas.”
The IFA Hill Chairman said that at this stage after two phases of GLAS, in excess of 7,000 commonage farmers have joined the scheme. More will join later in the year when GLAS reopens.
Also at the meeting in Portlaoise, the issues of the ANC scheme for 2016 were discussed with the Department of Agriculture. There are no major changes to the scheme for this year. The IFA Hill Committee has already set out a clear objective that an additional €50m is put into the ANC scheme to reverse cuts and to increase payments up to a maximum of €6,000 in hill areas.
Pat Dunne said income levels of hill farmers are at an extremely low level and they need all the direct supports that they can get whether through the BPS, GLAS or ANC payments.