IFA Hill Committee Chairman, Tom Fadian has called for an extension of the closing date for farmers who are applying for a derogation of the stocking rate criteria in order to qualify for the 2012 scheme. The closing date which is next Friday 24<sup>th</sup> August must be extended to 3<sup>rd</sup> September by Minister Coveney.
Mr Fadian said it is very clear that the unfair retrospective criteria of 0.3lu/ha for 3 consecutive months in 2011 to qualify for the 2012 scheme introduced by the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney is raising a lot of concern among some farmers.
The IFA Hill Chairman said farmers should examine all the categories so that they can determine which one to use to seek derogation. For hill farmers the main criteria to seek derogation are poor quality land, environmental designation such as SAC, SPA’s and NHA’s, Commonage Framework Plans which restrict stocking levels, REPS/AEOS farmers.
In addition Tom Fadian said that in many cases stock levels can’t be achieved due to ill health, animal disease or where the farmers only entered farming recently. In relation to the stocking rate associated with sheep, IFA is advising farmers to send on their 2011 sheep census as well as the 2010 census which the Department of Agriculture are also using.
Tom Fadian said that the Department of Agriculture have got to take into account that many farmers were not in REPS 3 in 2011 and were awaiting an AEOS 3 scheme earlier this year, which the Minister has so far failed to deliver on. In additional new stocking rates are being established for commonage areas and again these were promised some time ago. Farmers in these situations must be taken onto account. Concluding the IFA Hill Farming Chairman said that payments to farmers in hill areas must not be held up as a result of the appeals system