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