The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has set out its priorities for its members for the year ahead.
The INHFA was established in January 2015 to represent farmers on marginalised, hill and designated land.
It was formed because many of these farmers felt they were not being represented.
The association has set out its priorities for 2016 in its Policy Document 2016:
Under Natura – designated lands – it has made it a priority to get the present payment of €79/ha (paid through GLAS) substantially increased and paid on every hectare in order to reflect the real burden placed on designated land.
It has also stated that it wants more involvement and flexibility from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in allowing works be carried out on designated sites in order to reduce the possibility of future flooding.
The INHFA also wants there to be the establishment of one organisation with input from all relevant groups to develop a joined-up thinking approach to Flood Management and flood catchment maintenance.
The INHFA also wants landowners to be fully reimbursed for income lost as a result of designations which should also include costs incurred such as planning applications for fencing.
The following are also priorities for the INHFA:
- As a result of significant changes made to the BDGP we are requesting that the scheme is re-opened.
- Direct payment to be made on sheep and in particular the hill ewe.
- Re-opening of the light lamb trade.
- To make Leader more farmer Friendly and more accessible to the agri-sector.
- Farm Assist – Income disregard restoration.
- The rollout of broadband to all rural areas as it is now a necessity for farming enterprises to function. A minimum bandwidth of 8mb to every rural household.
- Appointment of Garda rural officer to liaise with rural communities.
- Farmer’s property rights have to be protected as regards accessibility to their lands and protection of their property.
The INHFA recognise the success and the huge benefits of the RSS scheme for low-income farmers and their families; many of these are unable to earn a living from their farms.
It believes that participant numbers on the Rural Social Scheme should be increased from 2600 to 5000.
- The INHFA is calling for the Department of Agriculture to put in place a mechanism for the 2016 BPS application form that identifies farmers with constraints on relevant lands with stocking rates below 0.15 L.U/HA so that these farmers can be cleared for their ANC payment on time.
- That all the stakeholders legislating policy for hill farmers continue to build a relationship jointly to achieve a common goal i.e. sustainable agriculture delivered in an environmentally friendly way that works for hill farmers, environmental interests, the Department and Brussels.
- The cuts that were previously made to the Disadvantage scheme must be reversed in the ANC scheme.