The INHFA has claimed that its Budget 2022 proposals can deliver for almost 100,000 farmers in Ireland.
The farm group has proposed a series of short and medium-term interventions for sheep and suckler farmers.
It has called on the government to ensure that it caters for all farmers in the upcoming budget. Its leader, Colm O’Donnell, cited a lack of access to critical schemes as an issue for several members.
INHFA’s Budget 2022 proposals include:
- Sheep sector: It has called for a doubling of the budget for the Sheep Welfare Scheme. This, with an updated reference year, it claims, can deliver €20/ewe. In relation to developing an Irish woolen industry, it has outlined details relating to R&D funding with a budget request of €3m.
- Suckler-beef sector: Last autumn, the government made €6m in funding available over three years to help develop markets for naturally reared suckler beef. The group acknowledged that progress has been made on this. “There is potential to expand it, which is why we are now seeking additional funding of a further €6m.” INHFA is seeking an additional €60m for the BEEP-S in 2022 to deliver an overall budget of €100m. This is in addition to the BDGP, which the government committed to rolling over for two years in last year’s budget.
- Agri-environmental schemes. With GLAS rolling over for the coming year, the INHFA has requested €100m for a one-year agri-environmental scheme to accommodate the “many” farmers currently frozen out of GLAS and the new REAP.
- Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) It has called for an increased budget allocation of €25m to deliver a total budget of €275m. This will see increased payments for all qualifying farmers and deliver a maximum payment of €5,000.
Climate change, biodiversity loss and forestry
- The group highlighted that climate change and biodiversity loss are two issues that will dominate for the foreseeable future. It said new proposals to address this could see an increase in the area of land designated. Currently, farmers with these designations have “shouldered an unfair burden”, which the government must address. At EU level, the cost of this burden is assessed at €150/ha/year. “If the state is serious about a just-transition, they should provide a budget of €120m/year to pay farmers/landowners affected.”
- Forestry: INHFA is seeking a “dramatic” change in policy that will end state funding for multinationals and pension funds. Also, it said the government must ensure afforestation scheme funds are instead only used to encourage “genuine” farmers to plant a portion of their holdings with commercial broadleaf or native woodlands. Furthermore, it views a policy change such as this as “attractive to all farmers”. In doing so, it believes all farmers can make a positive contribution to biodiversity and climate change.
Farm safety and social schemes
According to the president, the organisation has also made proposals around tax reform to prioritise measures around farm safety.
“In addition to this, we have sought changes to the Farm Assist Scheme. We have proposed increasing the number of places in the Rural Social Scheme and ending the six-year cap on participation.”
As we reported, Vincent Roddy will succeed Colm O’Donnell as president of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) later this month.