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RSS changes are a threat to future of entire scheme

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ANY ‘tampering’ with the Rural Social SchemE (RSS) by the Government could have major implications for rural communities across the western seaboard, according to Fianna Fáil, Agriculture Spokesman, Éamon Ó Cuív.

He said this week that he had concerns for the future viability of the RSS following changes put in place over the past years or so and also a review undertaken by the Dept. of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Deputy Ó Cuív said that following changes put in place in late 2012, a married man with a partner and two children now joining the scheme, would be about €100 worse off than a comparable person in the scheme over a number of years.

“This is a huge difference in income and instead of a person like that earning nearly €400 a week, he would drop to less than €300. Over the coming years, as vacancies arise in these schemes, this cut will have a major impact on the uptake of positions,” Deputy Ó Cuív told the Farming Tribune.

He said that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform was now also claiming that the RSS was out of line with Government policy and that they wanted to integrate income support schemes with labour market activation.

“In other words, they want to limit the length of time a farmer can stay on this programme as well as introducing a back to work element to the scheme. This simply won’t work. Farmers who participate in the RSS are already working, but are unable to earn enough to sustain their families,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

He said that since the introduction of the scheme in 2004 it had  benefited both the farmer and the taxpayer as it enabled local people to undertake community work at a fraction of the cost.

“The scope of the work ranges from environmental maintenance to social care, as well as village and countryside enhancement projects.  It’s been an extremely successful programme and I have grave concerns about any plans to abolish or change it,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

He said that  the scheme ensures community services were maintained and improved, while at the same time compensating low income farmers for the work they carry out.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Worry of walkers claiming against farmers

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Connacht IFA Chair, Pat Murphy

FARMERS in hill-walk areas such as Connemara need to have their concerns allayed about insurance indemnification, the IFA has warned this week.

A pilot insurance project for farmers – as outlined by Rural and Community Development Minister, Heather Humphrey – is in the pipeline but has not yet been enacted into legislation.

Connacht IFA Chair, Pat Murphy, said that farmers in such areas needed the clear reassurance that if walkers on their farm had a fall or mishap, then the landowners would not be liable for any compensation.

“This really is a red line issue for farmers and landowners. They must be guaranteed in law that if hill-walkers are allowed on their lands that no liability will attach to the landowner if something happens,” said Pat Murphy.

He said that while farmers supported the principle of people being able to access the more scenic areas of the countryside, the issue of insurance indemnification had to be crystal clear.

“We also know that the issue of dogs being let roam by people out on country walks is one that needs to be addressed.

“The first thing a dog will do that’s let roam free will be to follow the nearest animal they see, and this is a major worry especially for sheep farmers,” said Pat Murphy.

Meanwhile, National Hill Committee Chairman Flor McCarthy has expressed concerns about recreational users not abiding by the Countryside Code during the recent spell of good weather.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Now is the right time to plan ahead for next year’s crop of Spring lambs

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The boss is around: Prepare early for the breeding season. Photo: Compliments of Agriland.

IT might still only be Midsummer, but a Teagasc specialist has advised sheep farmers that now is the time to start planning ahead for the upcoming breeding season.

Michael Gottstein, Head of Sheep Knowledge Transfer, said that while most people considered the breeding season to be just the five to six weeks that the rams were out with the ewes, in reality it was much longer.

“The breeding season for next year’s lamb crop actually starts once the current year’s lamb crop is weaned,” Michael Gottstein has advised in the Summer edition of the Teagasc magazine, Today’s Farm.

He outlined three key Summer dates for sheep farmers – late June/early July for weaning and checking on the condition of the ewes; early July for a ram health check; and late July/early August when the ram sales kick off.

The Teagasc specialist said that productive ewes will require about 10 weeks of good grass after weaning to regain body weight lost during pregnancy and lactation.

“Contrary to what many farmers think, it is not a good idea to allow ewes to lose weight post-weaning. Thin ewes that do not regain body condition after six weeks of good grass should be culled,” said Michael Gottstein.

He also advised that rams should be checked in early July for lameness, body condition, as well as for signs of disease or injury – while, like the ewes, they needed time to regain body condition.

“Identify how many, if any, replacements (rams) are required and purchase them early, so that they have the best chance of acclimatising to their new environment and feeding regime,” he added.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Fair Deal reached as Bill is enacted

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Maura Canning: Good day expected.
Maura Canning, the former IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chairperson

RELIEF has been expressed this week in farming and political circles that at last the Fair Deal Nursing Home legislations changes have been passed by the Oireachtas.

The Bill went through the Dáil last Thursday and the Seanad on Friday, bringing to a conclusion a campaign that started back in 2012.

Maura Canning, the former IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chairperson, told the Farming Tribune there was a great sense of relief that a nine-year long campaign had at last got over the line.

“It has been such a long and difficult campaign to secure this deal with a lot of complications and obstacles along the way. At times, we seemed to be almost there, until something happened to hold up the process, but there really was a great sense of relief last Friday when the Bill at last passed through its final stages,” said Maura Canning.

She paid a particular to former Minister of State, Jim Daly; the current incumbent Mary Butler; and also to the many TDs and Senators that had been lobbied over the years on the issue. “No TD ever failed to return a call,” she said.

The key change in the new Bill is that there will be a three-year cap on the 7.5% annual contribution of the overall value of the farm where the farmer or their spouse is in a nursing home. There are a number of conditions attached to this CAP, the most significant of which is the fact that the farm must be signed over fully to the inheritor for a five-year period and this person must also continue farming on the land.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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