Hill farmers demand end to Pillar 1 payments for nitrate derogation farmers

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Farmers who avail of a nitrates derogation should not qualify for any Pillar 1 CAP payment, and these funds should be redistributed, according to the INHFA's 10-point plan for the suckler sector.

Launched last week, the plan states that the new CAP will see a major move towards sustainable environmental objectives - and Ireland's growing reliance on the nitrates derogation, it says, is in clear conflict with this.

It says 445,200ha availed of a nitrates derogation in 2018, an increase of 113,000ha from 2014 figures. If this trend continues over the next five years, the amount of land availing of the derogation will be 600,000ha, or 12pc of the total area claimed for Pillar 1 CAP payments.

The INHFA maintained that farmers who avail of these derogations should not qualify for the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) or any other Pillar 1 payment.

If all such farmers had to forgo the payment, it would create a fund of €113m, which it says could be distributed to other farmers.

The 10-point plan also insists that further expansion of the dairy herd cannot be done at the expense of the suckler farmer.

"Cattle and in particular suckler cows are seen as a problem, and for many the solution is simple: replace our suckler cows with trees and we will go a long way in meeting our climate change targets," it says.

"Those adopting this approach give little regard to the negative impact of large-scale afforestation that increases rural isolation, desolation and depopulation."

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The INHFA also called for the re-branding of suckler beef. In addition, it sought an overhaul of the ICBF board, stating that at least 30pc of the board should be representing the suckler herd .

Meanwhile, the INHFA maintained that BDGP was more a scheme for the dairy sector than for beef.

BDGP was a scheme designed to favour the dairy industry..

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