€500,000 in Hen Harrier Programme payments this week

Almost €500,000 in payments under the Hen Harrier Programme will be made to qualifying farmers this week.

Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, confirmed that the bonus payments will be made to these farmers “in recognition of their contribution to the very successful 2019 hen harrier breeding season”.

The payment, which comes on top of the annual scheme payment for farmers, is described as a dividend payment rewarding hen harrier presence and success on the farmer’s land last year.

Last year, 56 confirmed pairs of hen harriers in the six special protection areas (SPAs) reared at least 81 chicks, the highest number for 14 years.

These gains were most pronounced in Co. Kerry where one pair raised an “almost unprecedented” five chicks.

“This hen harrier scheme is a key biodiversity measure from my department and has gone from strength to strength. More than 1,500 participant farmers are helping to conserve this beautiful bird for generations to come,” Minister Creed commented.

The purpose of the programme is to pilot new approaches to farming for conservation with farmers being paid for improving the natural habitat to deliver “defined environmental objectives”, the department explained.

The Hen Harrier Programme invests with farmers in actions that can support the delivery of “quality habitats”. Over €3 million in habitat payments have been paid to farmers over the last six months.

The bonus payment to be made this week is the payment from the Hen Harrier Programme to qualifying farmers based on how well hen harriers are doing in their area, the department said.

“This bonus payment recognises and rewards farmers for their work and is an acknowledgement that the hen harrier is an asset in the farming landscape,” the minister remarked.