Recent commitments made by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, to support Ireland’s ‘forgotten farmers’ has been welcomed by the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA).

In December 2021, it was reported that these farmers would receive a once-off payment of €5,000 from the Exchequer, but it is understood that payment supports may be secured under the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – this has not been confirmed, however.

This group of farmers, which is estimated to be in the region of 3,500 were, on entering farming, not in a position to avail of targetted young farmers’ support through the previous two CAP programmes, the INHFA has said.

Such supports included the young farmer installation aid; 60% grant aid through various farm improvement schemes; and improved Pillar 1 payments through the National Reserve and the Young Farmer Scheme.

INHFA national president, Vincent Roddy said it was his understanding that some of these supports will come through the next CAP, and stressed the importance of CAP in delivering for this group of farmers, adding that “this is about fairness not favouritism”.

“We are looking at all options to ensure that these farmers are supported going forward while also attempting to address the income these farmers lost out on over the last number of years,” the national president said.

On this basis, the INHFA is “looking to address any shortfall in Pillar 1 payments and has, through its CAP proposals, included a specific category for this group”.

“In addition to this, we are also looking for additional support comparable with that available to young farmers for farm improvements under TAMS and its successor.

“There will also need to be a once-off substantial payment for the 3,500 farmers in this category.”

“This has always been a key priority for the INHFA and we look forward to working with the minister and his staff in getting this over the line,” said the INHFA president.