INHFA calls for more support in disadvantaged land areas

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) has called on the Government to do more to help farmers with disadvantaged land.

The INHFA said it was pleased with the steps already taken by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to fix the shortfall of support, but added that more meaningful targets were needed.

The INHFA’s comments come after an EU review of the ‘Areas of Natural Constraint’ (ANC) scheme – an initiative which points out areas that are ‘scientifically constrained’ – meaning they are disadvantaged for farming.

The EU review is based around eight scientific criteria in order to pin-point those disadvantaged areas most in need of support – and how to direct that support.

The INHFA criticised the Government’s methodology for calculating the level of support and the bands of payment in the scheme, but did welcome Minister Michael Creed’s move to target an additional €25 million towards the most constrained areas.

The group’s president Colm O’ Donnell said that: “The INHFA position calls for the retention of the Mountain Grazing Area as a category in the review, along with the retention of the two lowland land types: ‘more severely’ and ‘less severely’ handicapped.

In addition, I am calling on the minister to look at supporting areas with specific permanent constraints in areas adversely affected by the Nature Directives before completion of the ANC review.

He added that: “A certain level of flexibility is available to the Minister to make such a provision, which would be seen as an acknowledgement by Government and the State of the additional constraints experienced by farmers with designated land.”