IFA split over the GLAS plan proposals agreement
The IFA at national level have sold out hill and commonage farmers around the country by agreeing to the Department of Agriculture's proposals for the new GLAS environmental scheme.
This was the view of all farmers that attended an emergency meeting held in Mayo on July 17 to discuss key issues affecting hill farmers. The meeting was attended by every hill branch in Mayo, along with a large representation from hill branches in Galway and Sligo.
They heard how the IFA at a national level changed their initial position from being totally opposed to a collective agreement on the commonages to the point where they agreed to a 50pc collective agreement and a payment of €79/ha on Natura land.
This is almost half of the €150/ha that was agreed by European Commission as the cost of Natura designations. All of this was done without consultation with the Hill and Rural Development committees of the IFA, who had been given a clear mandate to reject any form of a collective agreement.
The origins of this mandate goes back to a meeting held on May 20 in Athlone that was attended by hill committee members and prominent IFA representatives from Mayo, Sligo, Galway, Leitrim, Kerry, West Cork, Waterford, Louth and Donegal. Also present were the IFA president, general secretary, the national hill chairman and rural development secretary. At this meeting it was made crystal clear that any form of collective agreement would be totally unacceptable as Tier 1 priority entry to the GLAS Scheme. This subsequently became IFA policy.
The shift in position by the negotiation team on the collective agreement happened when they gave in to Minister Coveney during final talks on the Rural Development Program.
This was weak and showed a total disrespect for the root and branch protocol that the association trumpets as their strength on the ground.
Commonage farmers will require 50pc agreement between themselves and their neighbours in order to gain priority access to GLAS according to what is now proposed by Minister Coveney and agreed to by the IFA leadership.