The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has taken issue with additional conditions to the new fodder support scheme that will see many of their members lose out.
Speaking earlier this week, National President Vincent Roddy outlined how the decision to exclude farmers on lands classified as Category 1 under the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme “will see up to 30,000 drystock farmers excluded from this vital support”.
This decision has, he continued, “come as a bolt from the blue as there was no indication that drystock farmers on these lands would be excluded”.
“Many of these farmers have already factored in the fodder support announced in early May when they took up meadow ground and purchased fertilizer,” he added.
“To now deny them that support is unacceptable and has to be reviewed”.
In a direct call to the Minister of Agriculture, the INHFA President reminded him of the demands made at the association’s national AGM which the Minister attended just two weeks ago.
“At this meeting I welcomed the decision to support all drystock farmers, but also stressed the need to go further and support those farmers who are not in a position to make hay or silage and will need to buy fodder,” Mr. Roddy said.
“It is our understanding that some of these farmers have Category 1 lands and when we assess the changing route of the Fodder Support Scheme there is, albeit accidental, now an option to support all farmers on Category 1 ANC lands with a top-up ANC payment”.
When assessing all aspects relating to this scheme the INHFA leader stressed how the Minister and his Department must honor the commitments they have given to all drystock farmers.
“This is about trust and expectation – drystock farmers trusted what they were told last May and held up meadows and spent money in the expectation that support was promised,” he said.
“It is vital that the Minister now delivers on the commitment made and the proposals we have outlined, relating to top-up payments for the farmers with the highest natural constraint is an option well worth considering,” concluded Mr. Roddy