Talks between the Department of Agriculture and the team behind the Burren program broke down six weeks ago, The Farming Independent is able to reveal.
This is despite a statement last Tuesday by Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConalogue saying his officials had been “working closely” with the project team to develop a bespoke system for Burren farmers under the new BurrenAran ACRES scheme.
That Independent Farming assumes that the last meeting to resolve this dispute took place on October 20th.
The Burren program’s founders, Brendan Dunford and Sharon Parr, announced earlier this month that they were leaving the project because they could not endure the limitations of the new ACRES program.
After last Tuesday’s meeting with Minister McConalogue and Junior Minister Pippa Hackett, Mr Dunford said they were no closer to a solution.
“The meeting was a welcome opportunity for Ministers to explain why the proposed payment structures in ACRES would most likely result in an erosion of the environmental gains made under the Burren scheme and also a reduction in agri-environmental payments for many high nature value farmers in the region “, he says
“The opportunity to be heard was very welcome and the group of farmers and local representatives were well heard. In terms of resolving the issues raised, there have been no clear suggestions as to how to move forward.”
The new BurrenAran ACRES, due to come into force on January 1, has been criticized by farmers and environmentalists for removing incentives for farmers to do more to protect the environment.
Meanwhile, the Burren’s five IFA branches held a joint meeting last Thursday to discuss the future of the Burren programme. Burren IFA Chairman Michael Davoren said Burren farmers would be “blackmailed” into accepting the new scheme.
“At the meeting, outrage was expressed by members of the five branches,” said Mr. Davoren.
“There are no negotiations, let’s put this performance to bed. There have been no negotiations for months. This situation will not be resolved unless the minister directs his officials to find a solution.
“Burren farmers are now being blackmailed, either you go to ACRES or you get nothing. We need this money, it’s part of our income, it keeps us going.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/talks-to-resolve-burrenaran-acres-scheme-row-broke-down-six-weeks-ago-42180640.html Talks to resolve the BurrenAran-ACRES program dispute collapsed six weeks ago