Agri-environment plan set for inclusion in RDP
Proposals for a new uplands agri-environmental scheme to be included in Ireland's next Rural Development Plan (RDP) are reportedly receiving a favourable review from the Department of Agriculture.
The proposal outlines a specific agri-environmental scheme for uplands farmers that would focus on encouraging sustainable farming practices in ecosystems dependent on agriculture.
It is believed that Department officials see the proposed scheme as a possible way of 'compensating' uplands farmers for an imbalance in single farm payment (SFP) distribution.
The counties with the lowest average per hectare SFP payment are Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo, Kerry, Sligo and Galway. They are also the counties with the greatest extent of uplands.
The plan was part of a wider submission by the National Uplands Working Group, which includes the farming organisations ICMSA, ICSA and IFA, as well as the Department of the Environment and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, among others.
Under the proposal, actions and payments under the scheme would be divided into three tiers.
Tier I would apply to all farms in receipt of single farm payment (SFP) who meet the requirements of the proposed greening measure and cross compliance.
Tier II would be available to farmers who select options that go beyond the Tier I requirements. Tier II options would include hedgerow management, stone-wall maintenance, native tree planting, riparian margins, wild bird cover, rare breeds and management of heritage sites.