Farmers warned on gorse burning in March

IFA National Hill Chairman, Flor McCarthy
IFA National Hill Chairman, Flor McCarthy

FARMERS have been warned by the Dept. of Agriculture that they could lose their area based payments if they go ahead with any kind of gorse burning between the closed period of March 1 to August 31.

The IFA had campaigned for a ‘managed programme’ of burning during the month of March, which would have helped to avoid the gorse fires of last February when land and scrub were particularly dry.

IFA National Hill Chairman, Flor McCarthy, said that the blanket ban of burning in March was not the way to go given the variation in weather conditions across the country.

“The Minister has failed to take account of how farmers manage their hill land responsibly and where land is burned, it is done in a managed way. It indicates a lack of understanding of the practical issues farmers face in managing their hill farms,” he said.

However, the Dept. of Agriculture, have warned this week that if land is burned between March 1 and August 31, the landowners risk prosecution while the burnt land will not be eligible for payment under the Basic Payments Scheme(BPS).

They also warn that the illegal burning of land may result in ‘reduced payments and penalties’ under the BPS and other area based schemes such as ANCs (Areas of Natural Constraint).

As well as that, the Dept. also stated that the illegal burning of land can also render your neighbour’s land ineligible for payment and may also result in a land inspection by Dept. of Agriculture officials.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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