THERE was a huge turnout of farmers for the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) meeting in Maam Cross last Friday night, aimed at stepping up the pressure to secure increased ANC payments for hill-type land.
A crowd – estimated to be in the region of 500 to 600 – turned out for the meeting at Peacockes of Maam Cross, that was also attended by Oireachtas, European Parliament and Council representatives.
This was the third meeting organised by the INHFA – all aimed at trying to get a better ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) deal for hill and mountain farmers in the review of the scheme currently being undertaken.
At present, the Dept. of Agriculture are conducting a review of the scheme – following on from a recommendation by the European Court of Auditors – with a draft report due to go to Europe this Summer.
INHFA Livestock Representative, Brendan Joyce, told the Farming Tribune, that the aim of their campaign was to secure a payment rate of €250 per hectare for the first 20 hectares and €170 per hectare for the next 14.
“Payments of this scale are allowed within the EU rules and there is also a precedent in terms of this payment being made to farmers on the offshore islands.
“We are looking at a situation where there is an under-spend of €400 million on the Rural Development budget so we feel very strongly that a viable case can be made for the increased rate of payment in the hill areas,” said Brendan Joyce.
He said that in the review, the case for the increased payments to the hill farmers, should stand on its own merits. The INHFA didn’t want to see cuts to any existing farmer categories, he said.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.