Following a meeting with the Department of IFA Hill Committee Chairman Tom Fadian said the new stocking rate criteria for the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme must not discriminate against hill farmers where the potential of the land is not capable of reducing the higher stocking level of 0.3lu/ha required for payment.
Mr. Fadian said that those farmers who cannot reach this stocking level must be taken into account. This must include poor quality land, implementation of Commonage Framework Plans, farmers in agri-environment programmes including those that have exited REPS 3. In addition, farmers with Natura SAC and SPA land must also be exempt from the restrictions imposed normally leads to low stocking levels.
The IFA Hill Chairman said the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, must realise that his stocking rate proposal has caused serious concern in hill areas. He called for an early clarification that hill farmers who are carrying out farming activity to the potential of the land are not ruled out for payment in 2012.