In this opinion piece, deputy president of ICMSA, Denis Drennan, shares his views on the 2023 Farm Building Grant Scheme.
The reservation of eligibility for the Traditional Farm Building Grant Scheme to farmers participating in ACRES, EIPs, Organic Farming Schemes, Hen Harrier, Peral Mussel and the Burren Projects is disappointing and disconnecting.
Linkage was arbitrary and had no basis in logic or commitment to built heritage.
This decision is sadly typical of the kind of conscious exclusion that we have become used to.
Why should a farmer’s right to apply to the Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme be made dependent on participating in schemes aimed at a completely different element and to a completely different end?
What was wrong with just opening up this scheme – which we think is worthwhile and which we welcome – to all farmers instead of using it as another ‘slush fund’ to corral farmers into the approved directions and sectors?
There is something very irritating about the way that state funding is more and more being allocated – or even being reserved – on this two-tier level.
ICMSA does not see how shutting out any group of farmers from even applying to the Traditional Farm Building Grant Scheme helps in the preservation and restoration of our unique farming-related built heritage.
What exactly is the nature of the link that this exclusion is trying to make?
This very deliberate attempt to exclude certain classes and sectors was actually working against that broader environmental and heritage policy that the department so vociferously claimed to support.
We just do not understand this: in our experience, farm families want to reinforce and support their heritage: both natural and built.
But the government seems determined to knock back that desire and instead concentrate on sub-dividing and excluding.
Where everything points to getting more people on board, the Irish government’s policy seems to be about shutting the door and making it more and more difficult to do what is possible as well as what is right and beneficial.