The new Fodder Support Scheme announced yesterday (Wednesday, June 15) is coming under fire this morning for excluding certain farmers on constrained land, many of whom are hill farmers.

Following on from heavy criticism from the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA), which called for the scheme to be urgently reviewed, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has now voiced its disapproval of this condition in the scheme.

Under the terms and conditions, lands classified as ‘category 1’ under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme are not eligible for the €56 million measure.

Category 1 land is considered the most constrained land type under the ANC Scheme, and mainly consists of farmland on hills and mountains.

In response to this condition, the IFA’s National Hill Farming Committee chairperson Cailín Conneely said that the decision by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue to exclude lands classified as category 1 from the scheme is “totally unacceptable”.

“This will exclude most hill farmers who need support from the minister to get through the inputs crisis,” Conneely argued.

“Hill farmers who carry stock for the winter urgently need support as the exponential rise in costs is further eroding already low margins.”

Conneely stressed that “all land must be utilised to produce food”.

“Beef and sheep farmers who carry stock have increased costs imposed on them due to the escalation of input costs such as fertiliser, feed and fuel,” he added.

The IFA hill farming chairperson argued: “All beef and sheep farmers must receive extra financial support in addition to existing payments to ensure hill farmers can afford to continue to feed their animals for the winter of 2022.”

Fodder scheme needs ‘urgent review’

Earlier, the INHFA said that many of its members will lose out due to additional conditions in the Fodder Support Scheme.

The farm organisation claimed that a decision to exclude category 1 land under the ANC Scheme will result in up to 30,000 drystock farmers being excluded from “this vital support”.

INHFA president Vincent Roddy said that the decision has “come as a bolt from the blue, as there was no indication that drystock farmers on these lands would be excluded”.