The country’s newest farming organisation – the Irish Natura and Hill Farmer Association – is to be launched in Donegal within weeks.

The INHFA will officially launch its Donegal branch in the Mount Errigal Hotel on Thursday, March 5, at 8pm.

The meeting is also an information meeting for farmers on how the new GLAS ( Green Low-carbon Agri-environment  Scheme) scheme will work in practice for commonage and other farmers.

The new farming organisation has been formed as a result of the success of the Hill Farmers for Action group which was formed to campaign for changes in the GLAS scheme to make it accessible to all farmers.

The hill farmers were successful in getting the Minister and the Department of Agriculture to make a number of significant changes to the scheme to allow commonage farmers to get into GLAS.

Organisers say that the minimum stocking density proposed by the Department of Agriculture for farmers to claim their basic payment was abolished after the group sent a delegation to Brussels.

“The proposal that Commonage Farmers would have to apply collectively for GLAS was also successfully challenged by the Hill Farmer group and these farmers can now apply for GLAS as individuals and the 50% collective agreement is now a target instead of a requirement,” a spokesperson said.

He went on to say that farmers on marginal land farming in environmentally sensitive areas feel that they had nobody to represent them as the existing farm organisations had lost touch with the ordinary farmer.

“It has become apparent that farmers in these situations have not been treated fairly and have not got what they were entitled to in the changes to various agricultural schemes.”

The INFHA intends to continue with their campaign to ensure that these farmers are not left out again so that they can continue to be an integral part of rural communities.

Having got some concessions on the GLAS scheme INHFA is now investigating exactly how the scheme will be implemented and will discuss this in detail at the launch.

Land eligibility is also the current focus of the organisation as the Department of Agriculture are carrying out inspections of marginal land and in many cases imposing very severe cuts on parcels of land.

INHFA believe these cuts are totally unwarranted and based on a very narrow interpretation of land eligibility which is not required by the EU.