IFA encourages farmers to apply for National Walks Scheme

Farmers have been encouraged to apply for the National Walks Scheme, which is set to double the number of national walks and “benefit” up to 2,000 farmers.

The Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) National Hill Committee chairman Flor McCarthy has encouraged farmers to avail of the scheme.

McCarthy explained that the application process is now open to trail management committees, community groups and other similar entities.

In a recent meeting held with the Minister for Community and Rural Development, Michael Ring, it was confirmed to the IFA that the €2 million allocated in last October’s budget will double the funding for the scheme.

At present, the scheme covers 39 trails and involves 1,900 landowners.

The minister said that there are a significant number of walks that will be in a position to apply and it is vital that they do so without delay.

The IFA argues that the National Walks Scheme has been a “valuable addition to the development of recreational tourism in peripheral areas and supports farmers in the creation of walking routes”.

Minister Ring also recently confirmed that the labour rate for farmers’ work in maintaining the walks will increase from €12.50/hour to €13.50/hour.

This will apply to both existing participants and new participants, including farmers who may be in the middle of their current contracts.

On the National Indemnification Scheme, the minister confirmed to the lobby group that the legislation to cover land owners in the event of accidents will be published shortly and will be rolled out initially on a pilot basis.

The statement concluded by saying that the IFA impressed on the minister the urgency of getting this legislation through the Dail, so that farmers and landowners are given all the protection they need from any claim that may arise.