The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has said that many of its members will lose out due to additional conditions in the new Fodder Support Scheme.

The €56 million scheme aims to incentivise farmers, in particular drystock farmers, to grow more fodder (silage and/or hay).

The maximum area eligible for payment is 10ha/applicant, with a maximum payment of €1,000 (€100/ha). 

The application system for the scheme, which the government hopes will help avoid a fodder shortage, will be go ‘live’ in the coming days.

INHFA concerns

However, the INHFA has claimed that a decision to exclude ‘Category 1 land’ under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme will result in up to 30,000 drystock farmers being excluded from “this vital support”.

INHFA president Vincent Roddy said that the decision has “come as a bolt from the blue as there was no indication that drystock farmers on these lands would be excluded”.

He said that many of these farmers already factored in the fodder support when they took up meadow ground and bought fertiliser.

“To now deny them that support is unacceptable and has to be reviewed,” Roddy added.

The INHFA president reminded Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue of the demands made at the association’s recent Annual General Meeting (AGM), which he attended.

“At this meeting, I welcomed the decision to support all drystock farmers, but also stressed the need to go further and support those farmers who are not in a position to make hay or silage and will need to buy fodder,” Roddy said.

He urged the minister to support all farmers on Category 1 ANC lands with a top-up payment.

“This is about trust and expectation – drystock farmers trusted what they were told last May and held up meadows and spent money in the expectation that support was promised,” the INHFA president said.