Guest Speakers Kerry TD’s
Friday 21st February 2014 8.00pm
Ring of Kerry Hotel, Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry
Over 300 farmers were in attendance on the night including farmers from Mid Kerry, Kenmare and a bus load from the Killarney Women in Agriculture group. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Pat O Driscoll Chairman of the South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd, Agriculture Working group.
All Kerry TD attended and spoke at the meeting with the exception of Michael Healy Rae TD who was represented Cllr Johnny Healy Rae. Mr James McCarthy IFA and Mr Noel Murphy of the Kerry ICMSA spoke at the meeting.
The meeting was very constructive with emotions running high at times. South Kerry like all the Western Sea Board has suffered from depopulation due to the decline in Agriculture and the lack of off farm work. The farmers are prevented from planting their land due to environment restrictions so income from forestry is not an alternative for most. Agriculture and Tourism are the only opportunities farmers have of making a living in their communities.
This is why the proposed CAP changes must deliver support to these farmers who want to be active and want to continue farming along the Western Sea Board. Most of the farmers are getting older and it is not possible to have a rural community with little or no young people. The age structure needs to be rebalanced if communities are going to survive and to prevent land abandonment.
The following are the views of the farmers that attended the meeting.
Environment is important.
- GLAS needs to be targeted towards the Western Sea board based on the grazing of land on the coast and mountain areas. This is clearly outlined in the research work by Dr Eileen O’Rourke ‘Farming on the Iveragh Uplands’.
- To maintain these landscapes and habitats you need moderate grazing as outlined by Dr Eileen O’Rourke ‘Farming on the Iveragh Uplands’
- Money needs to be allocated for environmental work on farms in line with the 1st REPS Scheme. Tasks such as liming of land, protecting water courses, maintaining and planting hedges, farm yard tidy up are all important tasks that need to be carried out yearly. They require labour and some capital to keep the farm up to a very high environmental standard. In the past REPS proved to be a very successful in improving the environment on farm and contribution to the wider rural economy.
- The proposed allocation of €5,000 under GLAS and a further €2,000 in GLAS + is not enough money to maintain farms on the western sea board which have to deal with harsh weather, high rain fall, long distance from the market place, long distances from farm supplies and an aging population who will have to hire labour to do a lot of this work on farms. All farms on the Western Sea Board should quality for GLAS +.
Coupled Payments are important
- Coupled payments are important as they require daily farm activity in the rural areas which means that farmers have to live very close to their farms. In many cases this results in part-time farmers bring their weekly wages back into deeply rural communities. Many commute to work in large towns and cities but due to their farm activity live on farms in rural areas. This gives an important balance to population settlements across the country which in recent years has been in the opposite direction with many young people leaving the country side to live in towns and cities.
- Payments need to be indexed linked.
Mountain Sheep Farming
- A coupled payment of at least €30 per mountain ewe needs to be made to allow farmers keep ewes in the mountain areas along the western sea board. Otherwise the mountain ewe population will be lost and the skills of mountain farming will also be lost. These skills are handed down from generation to generation from farther/mother to son/daughter.
- There is need for a coupled payment of at least €250 per year for the Beef cow along the western sea board. The number of beef cows on the West coast and mountain areas is reducing daily due to the low returns in the sector. This payment needs to be made on the basis of quality and to farmers that hold these cows through the winter months (November, December, and January). These are the months that cost farmer and make Suckler farming an expensive business. Without this payment’s number will continue to drop in the more marginal land on the Western Sea Board leading to land abandonment and further de-population as outlined by Dr Eileen O Rourke.
- All payments need to be indexed linked.
- Coupled payments need to be capped and paid out to numbers on a sliding scale. For example The First 40 at x€ and the next 20 at x €, next 20 at x €, and the rest to a maximum of x €
- The maximum possible top up payments needs to be allocated to young farmers. Many young farmers have not got land passed onto them due to the current single farm payment system. Any farmer under 40 years of age should be considered and young farmers at this stage due to the lack of movement of land over the last number of years and the closing of the Early Retirement Scheme.
- CAP Rural Development money needs to be spent on paying farmers to maintain walk way and Greenway’s on their lands. These facilities provide important recreational activities on rural Ireland for visitors and local people. They help to make rural Ireland an attractive place to live and work in. There are important in encouraging young people to live in rural areas. If these facilities are opened up and well maintained they have the potential to create major economic activities.
- Restrictions on burning mountains based on particular dates of the year need to change. There has been no day yet this year suitable for burning. The seasons have changes and the Department of Agriculture needs to change. The same should apply to slurry spreading. Northern Ireland and Scotland have a longer time span for burning and their environment is much the same as the West of Ireland. They operate controlled burning which works very well. This needs to be included.
- The national Co funding of LEADER needs to be a minimum of 46% in line with the General Co-funding rate for pillar 2.
- The LEADER programme needs to be delivered locally through the current Local Development Companies.
It is proposed to hold a follow up meeting with the Kerry TD’s on Friday 14th March 2014 in the Ring of Kerry Hotel, Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry at 8.00pm to see what the response is to the proposals above.
For Further information in the above please contact
Mr. Joseph McCrohan,
Rural Development Officer,
South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd,
Cahersiveen, Co Kerry.
Tel 066 9472724 or 087 2849165
E mail: [email protected]