Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, to immediately re-engage with farmers following dramatic changes to the payment model originally proposed by his Department with respect to the preservation of Hen Harrier Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Deputy McGrath was speaking after the group, Irish Farmers with Designated Land (IFDL) heavily criticised the changes which have effectively reversed departmental commitments that a payment of €370 per hectare would be given to those farmers with over 19 hectares. Instead the new scheme only pays €66 per hectare or €26 an acre:
“This saga has been going on for a considerable period of time and has generated massive amounts of frustration and uncertainty by those farmers affected the SPA’s.
As I understood it, the arrangements organised around the pilot Locally-Led Agri-Environment Scheme (LLAES) were agreed in good faith with all bodies concerned. That agreement is now in tatters as the farmers feel that their good faith has been abused.
The Minister must immediately work to ensure that discussions take place in order to try and implement the proposals that were originally agreed.
At the moment what we have instead of the agreed proposals is a very chaotic situation and a total absence of certainty for farmers affected by the Hen Harrier issue.
There is enough uncertainty for farmers to face without this kind of scandalous back tracking from the Department,” concluded Deputy McGrath.