The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has welcomed the announcement by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to suspend all farm inspections not specifically required to support payments until 22 April.

INHFA vice-president John Joe Fitzgerald detailed how “the INHFA called for this last week and it is good to see that the Minister and his Department have listened and acted on this”.

While this is a progressive move, there is, maintained Fitzgerald, “more that can be done across other State bodies in relation to inspections especially with our county councils and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)”.

Flexible approach

In addressing the NPWS, Fitzgerald called for a flexible approach.

For farmers on hills and on designated lands, we must “move to a point where farmers are allowed to feed concentrates and silage on these lands, especially where this is the only practical and dry land available to these farmers.

"In allowing this, farmers need to be reassured that there won't be any sanction from the NPWS or indeed penalties on their Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) scorecard.”


In concluding, Fitzgerald detailed how the Department and other State agencies will also need to be flexible with their timelines.

“We all hope the weather will have improved by 22 April. However, if the weather and ground conditions haven't improved, then the date will need to be extended.”

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