Hill farmers to snub IFA advances

The recently established Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) is to continue to go it alone despite recent concessions by the IFA.

New IFA President Joe Healy in his inaugural address to the IFA AGM said he will propose to set up a full National Committee combining Hill and all other Designated Areas, with the Chairman having a full seat on Council.

However in a statement to Agriland, the INHFA said they have a policy position to not involve themselves in the inner workings of what they described as ‘other’ farm organisations.

“At the time of INHFA coming into being there was an absolute and critical need for Hill farmers in-particular, to be properly and fully represented and we still believe the people with the most expertise, passion and negotiating skills to do this are within the ranks of INHFA.

“We also believe the level of focus that INHFA can bring to issues around land designations, SACs, commonages etc is not available in any other farm organisations,” it said in the statement.

However, the organisation did go on to extend best wishes to Joe Healy on his election success.

The INHFA was initially founded as a result of the success of the Hill Farmers for Action group which was formed to campaign for changes in the GLAS scheme to make it accessible to all farmers.

The hill farmers were successful in getting the Minister and the Department of Agriculture to make a number of significant changes to the scheme to allow commonage farmers to get into GLAS.

The group had a number of fundamental differences with the IFA during the tenure of the now former IFA President Eddie Downey. They included the entry requirements to the GLAS scheme as well as collective agreements on commonages.

Former IFA National Rural Development Committee Vice Chairman, Colm O’Donnell was among the founders of the new organisation.