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Saturday 21 October 2017

Mayo sheep farmers warn of crisis in hills

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

MORE than 840 Mayo sheep farmers have sent a highly critical letter to IFA president John Bryan about what they believe is a crisis unfolding on their hills.

"Every farmer signed this with their herd numbers to prove that they are genuine," said Newport farmer and county councillor, Michael Holmes.

However, neither the county's hill farming representative Martin Gavin nor the hill farming chairman, Tom Fadian, have rowed in with their fellow county men and added their signatures to the document.

"This letter has nothing to do with me," said Mr Gavin, who farms outside Leenane.

"The issues that are frustrating these guys are true. But we have a vision of how to go about getting through this. Nobody has told me that we're not doing our job."

Michael Holmes said that one of the biggest issues was the fact that farmers have been forced to reduce stocking numbers by at least 50pc over the past 10 years and that many would not now fit the definition of 'productive farmer' that farm organisations have been prioritising for CAP funding over the next seven years.

The letter specifically takes aim at the IFA's hill farmer representatives. "The situation has now reached a crisis point. Hill and commonage farmers are deeply frustrated with the lack of progress that the IFA has made with the Departments on this issue," the letter states.

"We feel that we require stronger representation in order to secure a fairer deal ... and ensure our survival."

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"We haven't been taken seriously and it has been very hurtful. Things can't get any worse here, so we've nothing to lose at this stage," Mr Holmes said.

A statement from John Bryan said that the Government needed to take note of the farmers' concerns. He added that a hill forum in Galway this Friday would address the issues.

Irish Independent



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