Roscommon man, Vincent Roddy, is the new President of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) after he was ratified at the organisations National AGM which took place at Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey, Donegal on Thursday last.
The Ballaghaderreen native will lead a new team consisting of two new Vice-Presidents in Pheilim Molloy from Donegal and Michael McDonnell from Co. Mayo. They will also be joined by Sharon Cosgrave from Mayo as National Secretary and Sligo native Hugh Gallagher as National Treasurer.
In his first Presidential address, Vincent Roddy focused heavily on the current CAP reform, Climate Change and ongoing issues confronting farmers with Land Designations.
Discussing CAP, the new President reiterated the INHFA’s call for a full flattening of Pillar 1 payments through 100 percent convergance and front-loaded payments.
“This recognises how these policies will not alone deliver in terms of equal payment for the same conditions but will also provide the best means of protecting the greatest number of farmers,” he said.
Mr. Roddy also called for an annual budget increase of at least €250 million to deliver an overall budget of €850 million in relation to Pillar 2 payments.
On Climate Change Advisory Council proposals to reduce the suckler herd due to its lack of profitability, Mr. Roddy said the council’s role should be “to assess emissions and their impact based on science and not whether the sector was profitable or not”.
He called on the CCAC to revisit this assessment and provide an updated view based “entirely on science”.
Continuing on the issue of climate change and proposals around Just Transition, the INHFA President said there would be a cost to farmers as they aim to deliver on targets.
“This cost will be seen through loss of agricultural output resulting in lower profits, additional regulation and additional labour costs. And how do we know this? Because farmers operating on our designated habitats namely SACs and SPAs have lived with these costs for the past 20 years,” he said.
“Unfortunately, these farmers are still waiting for a just transition as they struggle with the 39 notifiable actions that undermines their farming activity and profit”.
In a direct plea to Agricultural Minister Charlie McConalogue, who was in attendance, he stressed the need to address this issue and help build trust with the farming community.
“Like in any relationship and this is a relationship between the State and the farmer trust is important and right now there is no trust. Again and again farmers have been ignored when they look for fair or just payment,” he said.
“And it’s not like they haven’t delivering for the State. Based on the EU’s own Nature Fitness Check, the Natura 2000 network is delivering €2.5 billion each year to the Irish economy which translates into €3,000 per hectare. For our farmers, the only payment available to them is €79/ha but they have to join GLAS for this”
Mr. Roddy concluded by highlighting the strong turnout at last Thursday’s meeting and said it was a “clear indication from our branch and county officers of their determination to make the INHFA a dominant force in Irish agriculture”.