AT a national rally on CAP held by Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association in Letterkenny, the organisation demanded flattening of Pillar 1 payments through full convergence by 2026 and a significant increase in Pillar 2, often referred to as the Rural Development Programme.
In the presentation to the 500 strong attendees, the organisation outlined how their proposals can deliver substantial
gains for small to medium size farm holdings.
These gains can be delivered through the flattening of pillar 1 payments (in preparation for a future front loaded payment) which would bring all farmers to €250/ha.
In addition to this the organisation is seeking further increases in the ANC to bring the maximum payment up to €6,000, an improved agri-environmental payment in line with previous REPS payments, a doubling of the sheep welfare payment as well as a suckler cow welfare scheme.
In explaining the reasoning behind their proposals National President Colm O’Donnell stated: “Our priority is to ensure that farmers get the support needed to continue farming whilst also recognising through deeds and not just words the enormous public good that farmers provide.”
This public good, he added, “requires our farmers to protect and improve our environment, habitats and watercourses whilst ensuring the delivery of a quality food product that is fully traceable”.
On climate change he continued: “It appears many farmers will be expected to take on board major climate change mitigation measures and in doing so it is only right that those taking on the highest burden are properly rewarded for it.”
Finally, on the issue of public good, he pointed to the booming tourist industry that continues to grow, currently delivering €8 billion a year to our economy.
In stating how a major selling point in this industry are the hills and rugged landscape, Mr O’Donnell maintains that the public goodwill of farmers in helping develop this industry can no longer be ignored.
Mr O’Donnell concluded by expressing his concern with regard to the ongoing decline in the number of farmers, which will accelerate in coming years if we cannot encourage new people in and support those that are there in staying.
He stated: “This is a concern not just for the sector, but also for our rural economy which is why our government needs to invest and support us.
“Our proposal to increase the government funding of Pillar 2 by a minimum of €180m
a year to leave a budget at over €750m will not just support farmers but also rural Ireland, our tourism industry and the economy. This will make it money well spent.”