INHFA calls for ‘fairer CAP redistribution and stronger Pillar II’

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has demanded the flattening of Pillar I payments through full convergence by 2026 and a significant increase in Pillar II, often referred to as the Rural Development Programme.

The organisation made its demands at its national rally on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, on Friday (January 25).

In the presentation to the 500-strong attendees, the organisation outlined how its proposals can deliver “substantial gains” for small to medium sized farm holdings.

It was explained that these gains can be delivered through the flattening of Pillar I payments (in preparation for a future front-loaded payment) which would bring all farmers to €250/ha.

In addition to this, the organisation is seeking further increases to the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme to bring the maximum payment up to €6,000, an improved agri-environmental payment in line with previous REPS payments, a doubling of the sheep welfare payment as well as a suckler cow welfare scheme.

Explaining the reasoning behind their proposals, the INHFA’s national president, Colm O’Donnell, said: “Our priority is to ensure that farmers get the support needed to continue farming whilst also recognising through deeds and not just words the enormous public goods that farmers provide.

This requires our farmers to protect and improve our environment, habitats and watercourses whilst ensuring the delivery of a quality food product that is fully traceable.

Commenting on climate change, O’Donnell said: “It appears many farmers will be expected to take on board major climate change mitigation measures and in doing so it is only right that those taking on the highest burden are properly rewarded for it.”

On the issue of public goods, he outlined that Ireland’s tourist industry continues to grow and is currently delivering €8 billion a year to our economy.

O’Donnell maintains that a major selling point in this industry “is our hills and rugged landscape”. The public goodwill of our farmers in helping to develop this industry “can no longer be ignored”.

O’Donnell concluded by expressing his concern with regard to the ongoing decline in the number of farmers which will accelerate in coming years if we cannot encourage new people in and support those that are there in staying.

“This is a concern not just for the sector, but also for our rural economy which is why our Government needs to invest and support us.

“Our proposals will not just support farmers but also rural Ireland, our tourism industry and the economy; this will make it money well spent, he concluded.