Poll results: 91% in favour of bringing the cutting date forward for THMs

A total of 91% of respondents to an AgriLand poll – which received in excess of 1,000 responses – are in favour of bringing the cutting date forward for traditional hay meadows (THMs) under the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS).

As it stands, farmers who have THMs under the scheme are not permitted to start cutting until after July 1. The objective of THMs is to promote the maintenance of a traditional method of forage conservation that is beneficial to grassland flora and fauna.

However, numerous calls have been made for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to bring the cutting date forward – given the fine spell of weather forecast over the coming week.

The chair of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association’s (ICSA’s) Rural Development Committee, Seamus Sherlock, was one of those who called for a derogation to allow GLAS farmers with THMs to mow hay over the coming days.

While the traditional hay meadow is well meaning, it is unconscionable that – for the sake of a few days – we would prevent farmers from making hay while the sun shines.

“It is unacceptable that an opportunity to make real quality hay would be missed, only a few months after we imported hay due to the fodder crisis. We do not want farmers to risk losing GLAS money for a breach of regulation, but we have to have some common sense applied,” he said.

Sherlock noted that farmers in GLAS are actively farming in an environmentally friendly way and he added that it would be “very unfair” if they are not allowed to cut THMs during the current spell of fine weather.

‘A once-off exemption’

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail’s agriculture spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue, also wrote to the minister today requesting “a once-off exemption” to be granted to allow for the earlier cutting and saving of hay.

“Under the current regulations governing GLAS, cutting is not permitted until after July 1.

Given the importance of – and necessity for – good weather to save fodder crops, and the unpredictability of weather in general in this country, the request is firmly rooted in common sense.

He added that fodder supplies across the country are heavily depleted, as a result of the fodder shortages experienced over the last nine months.