Flexibility within all CAP eco-scheme measures will be important, particularly for hill farmers, according to Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) president Vincent Roddy.
The announcement of three entirely new eco-scheme qualifying measures and amendments to some of the original five measures by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has been welcomed by the INHFA.
On the additional three measures, Roddy said the soil sampling and liming measure may be one that will be of most benefit to many lowland suckler and sheep farmers and that for hill farmers, the new flexibility within all options could be much more important.
He said: “Farmers will have the ability to deliver on their eco-scheme measures through the flexibility that rewards them for going beyond specific requirements.”
Roddy was speaking on Monday following the announcement from Minister McConalogue on eco-scheme measures within the CAP Strategic Plan.
While welcoming the changes, the Roscommon farmer noted that “all measures outlined will have a financial impact on farmers through reduced output, additional costs and restrictive regulation”.
“This is why farmers need a minimum payment of at least €63/ha which can be delivered through the 25% Pillar 1 budget allocation.”
The INHFA president acknowledged the “flexibility” farmers will have across the eco-schemes which will “reward them for going beyond specific requirements”.
“With this flexibility applying to the space for nature measure, there is a strong possibility that some farmers could deliver their overall eco-scheme requirement through this measure, especially if designated natura land is included here.”
Roddy described this as “an option we have been pushing the Minister and his officials on”.
The INHFA said that “with farmers on these lands forced to comply with 38 activities requiring consent, there is a very strong case for these lands to be included as part of this measure” and claims to be “confident that this can now happen”.
Roddy welcomed the consultation by the Department with the European Commission to afford farmers who choose the native tree eco-scheme option the choice to plant all trees in the first year.
He said this was a proposal the INHFA made to the Department as it “makes practical sense in terms of fencing”.
In addition to this, Roddy said the proposal to allow farmers to plant hedgerow instead of native trees “could be beneficial to farmers in terms of shelter for livestock”.
Roddy described how the INHFA will continue to “work with the Minister and his officials to ensure that all farmers who are willing to deliver on the environmental requirements through this scheme are accommodated and adequately rewarded”.