December 2nd 2014
The lack of compensation for farmers with hen harrier designation erupted at a very well attended meeting organised by Limerick ICSA national executive member Seamus Sherlock in the Devon Inn in Templeglantine last Thursday night (28 November). Farmers from the Limerick, Cork and Kerry areas expressed fury that there was no adequate compensation available and that their designated land was completely devalued as it couldn’t even be used for forestry.
“ICSA has agreed to try to help these farmers and we are going to organise a special meeting with them in the near future,” said Seamus Sherlock. “It is scandalous that there has been no entry into the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPSW) scheme since 2010. Now the farmers are being offered the GLAS scheme which is totally inadequate in most cases because it is capped at €5,000.”
Farmers at the meeting outlined how land was only worth a €1,000 per acre with a hen harrier designation whereas adjoining undesignated land was worth at least €4,000/ acre for forestry. The designation rules out afforestation and also imposes severe restrictions such as limitations on spraying and cutting rushes. Drainage or other land improvements are prohibited. “One farmer expressed outrage that the Department of Agriculture were fining him for allowing scrub to encroach but that the NPWS threatened penalties if he touched the scrub!” said Mr Sherlock. “We have to have adequate compensation for farmers who are designated or else designations will have to be removed.”
The meeting was also addressed by ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch who outlined the ICSA red card campaign on beef which was trying to get the 30 month limit up to 36 months, to get realistic weight and age specs for bull beef and to get a quality assured bonus on all quality assured animals.
National ICSA suckler chairman Dermot Kelleher, national rural development chairman Billy Gray and national beef vice chairman Tom Egan also addressed the meeting.
There was also a very interesting discussion on counteracting rural crime given by the Limerick crime prevention officer Justin McCarthy. A lively discussion took place on this issue.