New National Walks Scheme will benefit 2,000 farmers – IFA

The newly expanded National Walks Scheme will benefit up to 2,000 farmers across the country, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

During a meeting in Dublin yesterday between IFA representatives and Michael Ring – the Minister for Rural and Community Development – the latter confirmed that the €2 million that was allocated for this purpose in Budget 2019 is now available.

The association’s president, Joe Healy, welcomed the opening of the application process for the scheme, which is expected to double the number of national walks.

Meanwhile, Flor McCarthy, the IFA’s national hill committee chairman, said that there are a “significant” number of walks that may be eligible to apply, and added that it was “vital” that applications are made as soon as possible.

The IFA argues that the scheme is a “valuable addition to the development of recreational tourism in peripheral areas”, and will also support farmers’ involvement in the creation and maintenance of these walks.

The IFA also said that Minister Ring confirmed at their meeting that the labour rate for farmers who work in upkeeping these walks will increase from €12.50/hour to €13.50/hour under the new budgetary measures.

That increase will apply to both current participants and new entrants, including farmers who are in the middle of their contracts, the IFA explains.

National Indemnification Scheme

According to the association, Minister Ring confirmed that legislation to protect landowners in the event of accidents on their holdings will be published in the near future, to be rolled out on a pilot basis at first.

The IFA said it urged the minister to get this legislation passed as soon as possible, so that farmers and other landowners will be covered, should any injury-related claims arise.