23rd January, 2012
Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) national president Gabriel Gilmartin is concerned that the efforts to target disadvantaged area cuts at certain categories of farmers and landowners will create anomalies. He emphasised that anomalies would be difficult to avoid and that the real problem is that the Government should not see the disadvantaged area scheme as a sitting duck for cutbacks. “Successive cuts to the scheme by successive governments betray a failure to understand the importance of the scheme,” he claimed.
Regarding the details of the proposals, Mr Gilmartin said that the proposal to reduce DA payments to farmers with mixed holdings of disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged land would open a minefield of unfair cases.
“For example, this penalises the farmer who own farm is 100% disadvantaged but who has taken the initiative of renting non-disadvantaged land, usually in an effort to expand his herd or flock or ensure adequate winter fodder.”
He said that the 80 km rule was also contentious but he supported the concession that means that it won’t apply in the case of farmers whose main holding is disadvantaged. “This depends on what is meant by main holding. My view is that the main holding should be determined by where the herd number is established rather than by the size of the holding.”
However, Mr Gilmartin added that the objective of avoiding further cuts to the rate or to the maximum area for active farmers was essential and one that ICSA supported.