Seventy-four per cent of farmers believe the annual payments they have received under the Pearl Mussel Project, a results-based scheme, are fair and accurate.
Some 125 farmers, out of 455 in total in the scheme, responded to questions. Of those who responded, 16% said they did not think the payments in the scheme were fair and accurate, while 10% had no opinion on the question.
When asked if a locally led results-based programme works better than a GLAS-type approach, 62% of farmers said yes, 24% had no opinion and 14% said no.
97% said it was right that farmers were paid for producing clean water, wildlife habitats and carbon
Asked if being a participant in this scheme had increased their knowledge, value and appreciation of nature and the environment, 93% said yes the scheme had while only 3% said no and 4% had no opinion.
Finally, 97% said it was right that farmers were paid for producing clean water, wildlife habitats and carbon (ecosystem services). Only 3% said no.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, catchment officer with the Pearl Mussel Project Mary McAndrew said that as a pilot-based project, it is important for scheme officers that farmers have the opportunity to give feedback on what is working and what is not working for them.
One of the things we noticed when we could do the farmer training in the field was how eager farmers were
“Three years ago most of the farmers in our programme had never heard of results-based payments and now we have 72% of farmers surveyed saying they would like to know how to complete the habitat scoring on their own farms.
“In some cases farmers are going out with advisers when they are scoring and pointing out the various plants so the adviser doesn’t miss them.
“One of the things we noticed when we could do the farmer training in the field was how eager farmers were when it came to the species identification part of the scorecard.
“So it is no surprise that 93% of the respondents feel their appreciation, knowledge and value of nature has increased as a result of being involved in the Pearl Mussel Project,” she said.