IFA president Joe Healy has said that the current environmental scheme available to farmers in hill areas is inadequate and needs to be improved in the upcoming CAP negotiations.
Speaking at the annual IFA Hill Sheep Forum in Westport this Monday, Mr Healy said that GLAS did not reward farmers satisfactorily.
It does not reflect the work hill farmers carry out in maintaining the landscape, nor did it recognise the unique benefits that hill and commonage farmers deliver in meeting the challenges of climate change, and the protection of the habitats that require good management practices, he said.
Addressing farmers from around the country, Mr Healy launched a 10-point plan which includes greater ambition on environmental schemes, with farmers getting up to €10,000 annually for management practices. Higher payments should apply where farmers are asked to protect designated SAC and SPA land.
At the forum where Minister Michael Ring performed the official opening, IFA hill chairman Flor McCarthy impressed upon the Minister the need for supports for farmers in hill areas.
Among the measures which he could influence was a doubling of walks covered by the Walks Scheme. This was promised in the Programme for Government and has yet to be delivered, said Mr McCarthy.
On ANC payments, he pointed out the increase for 2018 of up to €700 must be followed by further increases to bring the maximum up to €6,000. This would represent a significant boost to hill farmers.
IFA sheep chairman Sean Dennehy said there must be a stronger viable price for light lamb. “We need to properly market and promote the product,” he said.