The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has stated that interim Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) payments must make up a substantial portion of farmers’ total outstanding payment under the scheme.

Plans to proceed with an interim payment for ACRES farmers beset by months’ long delays were announced last week by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

While INHFA national president Vincent Roddy welcomed the plan, he said it was “only right that the minister and Government act in providing what is still an overdue payment”.

“Payment rates need to be hitting past 80% of the total due with the ambition to get all farmers paid within the next two weeks,” Roddy said.

“The decision to now issue interim payments will provide room to address the very contentious issue of turbary rights on commonage lands.”

Turbary turf cutting areas

The farm leader’s mention of issues emerging on the treatment of turbary turf cutting areas on commonage land relates to a decision by the Department of Agriculture on the application of a 100m buffer around active turbary areas.

Th INHFA has warned that these buffer zones could reduce overall scoring values and, subsequently, on results-based payment rates.

“There is a real danger that ACRES becomes a very divisive issue across our hills and commonages and as this issue doesn’t only concern farmers, it has the potential to divide entire communities and create rifts that will still exist when ACRES is nothing more than a distant memory.”

Roddy called for the 100m buffer to be reassessed.

Read more

Interim payment to be made to ACRES farmers