IFA Hill Committee Chairman, Pat Dunne, said that following a meeting with the Department of Agriculture this week on the problems regarding new stocking rates for commonages under the CAP, the ball is now firmly in Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney’s court to resolve many of the practical issues involved.
Pat Dunne said it is vital when IFA meet with the Commonage Implementation Committee under independent Chairman Joe Healy next week that the solutions to deal with the many issues are clarified for farmers so as to allow eligibility for vital farm schemes such as the Single Farm Payment, areas of Natural Constraint payments and GLAS.
The IFA Hill Chairman said the minimum / maximum figures that were issued by the Department over 2 years ago must now be taken off the table. Also, famers who have been farming and looking after their commonages over the past number of years must not be discriminated against and should not have to reduce their sheep numbers. Farmers who want to increase numbers should be allowed to do so within the broad parameter of sustainable stock levels and in many instances at a very low level of stock.
Pat Dunne also pointed out that the management agreement to get into GLAS should be based on a common Plan drawn up with a Planner with farmers signing into that Plan. If the 50% of farmers and / or land area cannot be achieved then active famers should not be discriminated against and IFA will hold the Minister to his commitment that all active farmers will get them into the new agri-environment scheme. In relation to GLAS and €2000 the top-up payments, this must be guaranteed to those who partake in the management agreement.