Farm Ireland

Monday 20 February 2017

Hill farming blueprint unveiled

Published 21/06/2016 | 02:30

New IFA President Joe Healy. Photo: Frank Mc Grath.
New IFA President Joe Healy. Photo: Frank Mc Grath.

A 10-point plan aimed at lifting incomes in hill farming areas was launched by the IFA in Mayo yesterday.

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IFA president Joe Healy said that action was needed to arrest the decline in marginal farming areas where farming incomes were lowest. The €16,338 average is 100pc dependent on subsidy supports.

The plan wants the major schemes to include top-ups that are targeted specifically at hill farmers.

For example, the organisation has proposed options suited to hill farmers to be included in the new €25m Sheep scheme.

It also wants the €5,000 cap on GLAS payments to be removed, as well as the €7,000 limit for GLAS+. The plan also suggests a €150/ha commonage and Natura payment, along with greater flexibilities in Management Plans.

Mr Healy is also seeking a €25m increase in payments under the Areas of Natural Constraint scheme, and for this to be implemented from 2017. He believes the maximum payment should be increased to €6,000 in hill areas.

The IFA leader also pitched for a €250 top-up in the payment per hill farmer participating in Knowledge Transfer schemes. The lobby group also wants a Bord Bia initiative to promote light lamb.

In addition, the plan also looks for a 250pc increase in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme payment to €200/cow, along with a new upland environmental scheme similar to the Burren scheme; increased payments in TAMS to reflect the higher investment costs in hill areas where planning restrictions apply; compensation for designated land in the NPWS scheme; and a scrapping of the means test for Farm Assist and more openings to be created in the Rural Social Scheme.

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