IFA rural development chair Michael Biggins said the higher payment rates proposed for the new Agri-Environment and Climate Measure (AECM) scheme in the CAP Strategic Plan must be available to all farmers who participate.

The new environment scheme proposes that up to 20,000 farmers in eight areas identified by the Department as having particular environmental characteristics, would receive a payment of up to €10,500, with an average payment of €7,400.

It’s proposed that farmers in these areas would participate in the new scheme through co-operative project teams.

The remaining 30,000 farmers would participate in a general option and would receive a maximum payment of approximately €7,300, with an average payment of €5,000.

Biggins said: “There is a real issue of transition for farmers completing GLAS and the commencement of AECM, which will be caused by the tranche approach to the opening of the scheme.

“Providing for a reduced number of farmers to be accepted in 2023 is simply unacceptable.

“In light of the importance of GLAS/AECM payments to farmers’ incomes, it is essential that all applicants under all tranches be accepted and paid in 2023, or that GLAS contracts are extended to bridge the gap.”

To honour the Programme for Government commitment to a REPS-type programme, the minister must ensure the budget is adequate to ensure payments of €10,500 are available to all farmers in both options.

The scheme must be open to all farmers who wish to participate, he stated.

IFA addresses Joint Oireachtas Committee on Eradication of TB

IFA animal health chair TJ Maher said the TB Strategy launched by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue includes a number of key areas identified by IFA and provides for better farmer involvement in the decision-making process.

Maher appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine to raise key issues on the eradication of bovine TB.

“The eradication of TB within the shortest feasible timeframe must be the objective. As farmers, we have had to endure the burden of TB controls, associated costs and income loss for too long.

“However, achieving this must not be based on the simplistic approach of tightening controls on farms and increasing the cost burden on farmers,” he said.

“If we are serious about eradicating TB, it’s critical the additional funding provided in the budget of over €1m is fully utilised in addressing the staffing shortages in the Wildlife Control Programme.

“IFA are seeking a doubling of the existing staff resources.

“We can never again have a situation where famers are blacklisted through herd categorisation for TB.

“Outbreaks are events that occur outside the control of farmers, the approach of ranking herds based on previous TB history and publicising this has no role in eradication of the disease and merely serves to add to the burden of the programme on farms,” he added.

“IFA are actively engaged in the TB Forum process with the clearly outlined objective of eradicating TB from the National Herd while minimising the impact of controls and associated losses on farms,” Maher concluded.

Tribute to Seamus Brannick

The late Seamus Brannick.

Tributes have been paid to Seamus Brannick, Clooneen, Hollymount, Co Mayo, who died in early January.

A national champion sheep shearer and an exemplary farmer, Seamus was heavily involved in the Beet and Vegetable Association and was Mayo IFA county chair in the 1980s.

He was awarded honorary life membership in 2010.

A guard of honour was observed for Seamus on his final journey from the church to the graveyard in Roundfort by the members of the South Mayo Lamb Producer Group and Mayo IFA.