Issued by the National Press Office, The Irish Farmers’ Association
Thursday September 1 2011
IFA REJECT BIRDWATCH CLAIMS AS FLAWED AND MISGUIDED
In rejecting the allegations from Birdwatch Ireland, IFA Rural Development Chairman Tom Turley pointed to the failings of environment groups, which forced destocking on upland commonage areas in the past. This resulted in many areas becoming overgrown, affecting farm viability and damaging natural habitats for birds.
He said, “If the bird population is dropping, it’s not down to changes in farming practices. 90% of Irish farmland is in permanent grassland, and this has not changed over the last 20 years, which totally undermines the Birdwatch claims. The impact of increasingly cold winters and the re-introduction of birds of prey are factors which Birdwatch have failed to take into account.”
Mr Turley said, “Over the last 20 years, over 60,000 farmers have undertaken agri-environmental plans which include the maintenance of habitats which both sustain and increase bird numbers. The measures in both REPS and AEOS include the retention of wildlife habitats, the planting of 10,000 km of hedgerow and 1 milion trees, and the establishment of bio-diversity buffer strips.”
Furthermore, farmers have to comply with strict cross-compliance measures in order to qualify for the Single Farm Payment. These measures involve adherence to hedge cutting dates and maintaining farming systems conducive to a good environment.
Tom Turley said the claims by Birdwatch in relation to CAP funding does not stand up, as the existing structure supports farm income in Pillar 1, and the implementation of environmental measures under Pillar 2.
Contact: Niall Madigan (01) 450 1931/ 086 822 8635