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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘Our way of life has never been under threat like this before’ – Mayo farmer

The Rural Ireland Organisation will host a series of nationwide information meetings on the Common Agricultural Policy over the coming weeks and months.

The first four meetings will take place in Hiney’s Bar, Crossmolina. The first meeting will occur on Thursday, March 3rd, 2022, at 8 pm to explain Pillar 1 of the CAP.

Spokesperson for the organisation, Gerry Loftus, explained how “the new CAP is completely different to the current CAP, and farmers need to get an understanding of what the changes are”.

“Conditionality in Pillar 1 sees the introduction of eco schemes, front-loading, farm nutrient plans and later appropriate protection of wetlands and peatlands.”

“These are significant changes that will have a big impact on small farming families in the west. We are urging farmers to come along and hear what is coming.”

The second meeting will again take place in Hiney’s Bar, Crossmolina, on Thursday, March 10th at 8 pm.

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Loftus clarified that this second meeting will concentrate on Pillar 2, which involves the Agr-Environmental Collective Management Scheme (AECM), the DAFM’s new flagship environmental scheme equivalent to the current GLAS scheme.

Also included in Pillar 2:

  • Areas Natural Constraints (ANC);
  • Sheep Welfare Scheme;
  • The Suckler Cow Carbon Efficiency Scheme;
  • The Organic Scheme.

The Mayo native said all of these are of “real” interest to farmers in the West of Ireland.

The third meeting, at the same venue on Thursday, March 17th at 8 pm, will focus on carbon emissions.

Common Agricultural Policy meetings

Loftus is of the view that it is “critically important” that farmers get to understand their carbon footprint and what is being asked of them.

A general discussion meeting will take place in Hiney’s on March 24th at the same time.

“It is the intention to have an agricultural consultant and an ecologist present at as many meetings as possible.”

“Ireland’s CAP strategic plan consists of 800 pages. A huge effort has gone into this so farmers can be presented with the information.”

“The Rural Ireland Organisation has undertaken all the legalities of registration with the CRO and Revenue as well the purchase of all equipment required.”

“This comes at a sizeable cost. For that reason, there will be a €10 admission fee at all meetings for non-members.”

“People will also be given the opportunity to join the organisation if they wish. We are at a critical juncture in agriculture, especially in the west of Ireland.”

“Our way of life has never been under threat like this before. If our rural communities in the west are to survive, then we need to come together and organise ourselves to struggle alongside others to ensure a just transition for all,” concluded RIO’s leader.

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