IFA Hill Committee Chairman Tom Fadian has called for further consultation with an assessment of the practical implications of the review of the Commonage Framework Plans which are currently being undertaken.
Following a meeting in Galway between IFA, the National Parks + Wildlife Service and the Department of Agriculture, Mr. Fadian said that farmers who will be allowed to increase stock numbers must be given sufficient time to meet the minimum stocking level. Also, the maximum stocking level must be high enough to allow those farmers, who have the capacity, to reach these levels.
The IFA Hill Chairman said farmers in commonage areas have been restricted for the past 15 years and are now being told that their commonage, where it was a townland basis, must work within a minimum and maximum stocking rate. “Where farmers, for whatever reason, have difficulty meeting these criteria, they should not be victimised by the Department of Agriculture,” he said.
Parallel with the new stocking regime, Mr. Fadian is calling for a meaningful agri-environment measure. “A good start would be for the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to restore the maximum payment on AEOS to €5,000 and make a payment rate for Natura areas of €150/ha.”
Concluding, Mr. Fadian said a further meeting is planned for mid-September. He called for a more practical approach to the implementation of the new stocking regime to be put on the table by the NPWS and the Department of Agriculture in advance of the next meeting.