The Donegal county branch of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) will host Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue for a meeting on the proposed Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan (CSP).

The meeting will take place at the Jacksons Hotel, Ballybofey, next Friday (November 19).

The event is scheduled to begin at 8p.m.

Farmers are being told that they are “very welcome to attend what should be a very informative meeting” to pose their questions to the minister, who is a native of and TD for Donegal.

“The Minister of Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has agreed to attend the meeting to outline the CAP proposals and answer any questions farmers may have,” the INHFA said.

The INHFA’s reaction to the CSP details that have been revealed over the past number of weeks has been, perhaps, the most positive (or least negative) of any of the main farm organisations.

Notwithstanding this, it did have some criticisms to make – more so with Pillar II than Pillar I.

INHFA president Vincent Roddy had welcomed the decision to allocate 10% of the Pillar I budget to ‘front-loaded’ payments on the first 30ha – the maximum allocation agreed at EU level.

He also voiced his agreement with the 25% funding allocation for eco-schemes from the Pillar I budget, as well as a rate of convergence that will see all direct payments brought up to within 85% of the national average (though the INHFA had been hoping for 100%).

On Pillar II, though, Roddy had said he was disappointed with the budget allocation for some schemes.

While acknowledging that there will be an overall increase in Pillar II funding, he stressed: “This needs to be viewed in the context of increased demands on farmers as a result of climate change requirements.

“The increased demands will undermine farmer income and increase costs; farmers will need additional supports in order to stay in business.

“On this basis it is disappointing to see the proposed Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme will only cater for 400,000 suckler cows and the agri-environmental scheme will only cater for 50,000 farmers,” the INHFA president had argued.