IFA Hill Farming Chairman Tom Fadian said the time is now opportune for the introduction of an Upland Environmental Management Scheme, which should coincide with the implementation of new stocking levels.
He was commenting following the publication today of a report by the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture which looked at commonages and upland areas. Tom Fadian, who attended the launch of the report, said the new Rural Development Plan must contain an Upland Scheme.
He said, “In the context of eligibility for land, farmers have been particularly concerned where areas have been reduced following Department of Agriculture inspections, as these areas were deemed not to meet Good Environmental Agricultural Conditions. Destocking of hills 10 years ago has led to some areas becoming overgrown.”
Tom Fadian said that farm incomes must be viable if farming in hill areas is to be maintained. “The low returns from hill sheep farming have meant that direct payments are a critical element of farm income. Cutbacks in recent budgets as well as attacks on the income disregards for Farm Assist have resulted in pressure on farm incomes in commonage and hill areas.”