• The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has warned Ireland’s nitrates derogation is now under threat because of poor water quality.

    Nitrates derogation is part of the nitrates directive, which has been in place since 1991.

    The nitrates directive aims to protect water quality from pollution by agricultural sources and to promote the use of good farming practice.

    However, the latest EPA report, shows that approximately 269 waterways in Ireland, including rivers, coastal areas, canals, estuaries and lakes deteriorated in quality between 2015 and 2017.

    The report points the figure of blame at human activity, and in particular, at the presence of nitrogen and phosphorus from farming which are used in artificial fertilizers.

    Gerry Loftus of the INHFA says this latest report comes as no great surprise to the organisation who says this has been happening in the intensively farmed areas in particular over the last three years.

  • Farming organisations are calling for more assistance for farmers during the Covid-19 crisis.

    The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association is calling for an additional €100 million to be added to the 2020 ANC scheme to compensate the primary producers of sucklers, store cattle, sheep and lambs.

    INHFA President Colm O'Donnell says the Agriculture Minister has a duty of care to ensure that our primary producers get financial supports as quickly as possible to help with cash flow.

    Meanwhile, as beef prices continue their downward trend this week, the IFA is calling on the Government to distribute the €24 million euro unspent from the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure to be distributed to farmers, to help alleviate their financial pressures during the current crisis.

    The Irish Farmers Association is calling putting pressure on the European Commission to implement an "Aids to Private Storage" scheme, which would put beef into storage until markets recover from the current crisis.

  • Farmers from across the region travelled to Co Leitrim today to protest at what they claim is an “unworkable” fodder support scheme.

    Mayo, Galway, Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim farmers were all represented at the demonstration which took place at Department of Agriculture offices in Drumshanbo, with farmers calling for the immediate introduction of a meal voucher scheme for those experiencing fodder shortages.

    The protest was organised by the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association, who say the Agriculture Minister has ignored the principal recommendation of the fodder committee, which was for a meal voucher scheme.

    While the Minister did deliver a transport subsidy, its restrictive nature means it will not deliver for most farmers, according to National President Colm O’Donnell.

    He wants licenced hauliers who traditionally source quality fodder to be involved in the transport subsidy scheme, and he’s calling for a change to the 100km zone for sourcing fodder.

    The INHFA is also calling for square bales of hay and straw to be included in the scheme, and for local Agri stores to be added to the scheme where there is no Co-op in the area.

    The organisation is calling on Minister Michael Creed to reconvene the fodder action group to address the problems with the scheme designed by his Department and the co-operatives.

  • Farming groups met with representatives of the GLAS division of the Department of Agriculture yesterday, in an effort to break the logjam that has developed where a substantial number of GLAS commonage farmers still remained to be paid their final 15% instalment for 2017.

    Currently around 9,000 commonage farmers are in GLAS on up to 4,000 commonages. So far, however, just 1,490 plans, representing 40%, have been finalised, meaning that up to 6,000 farmers are still awaiting payment worth around €4m.

    Among the groups which met with Department officials was the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association.

    Their spokesperson Colm O’Donnell called on all DAFM approved Commonage Advisors to complete outstanding plans immediately, particularly to those contracted in block by the Department of Agriculture to Teagasc, who in turn sub-contracted to work to Farm Relief Services. He says it is totally unacceptable if many of the planners who commenced the interim plans last year are no longer engaged in GLAS plans, and Teagasc must make the necessary service available so that their clients are not left high and dry.

  • Two farming organisations - the IFA and the INHFA - are today calling on farmers to lift the pickets at factory gates, and give a chance to the deal hammered out over the weekend.

    Up to 300 farmers attended a rally outside Dawn Meats in Ballyhaunis last night, where it was generally agreed that the beef deal brokered over the weekend would deliver extra bonuses and see the establishment of a beef market taskforce involving all stakeholders.

    However, farmers are still holding out for a higher base price for their cattle, and are vowing to continue to protest on this issue.


    Colm O'Donnell,President of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association believes the beef agreement has the potential to deliver for beef farmers, but he claims farmers should end their protests now, or face losing what they've achieved over the past number of weeks.


    The Galway-based  IFA President Joe Healy is also urging farmers to end the blockades and give the deal hammered out at the weekend a chance.



  • The INHFA is advising farmers who want to tax their jeeps commercially in Mayo that they need to bring one of two specific forms with them.

    Gerry Loftus told Midwest News that the tax office cannot process commercial tax with just a herd or flock number. Up to this point, they were allowing some instances of this through, but it was only to accommodate the farmers and at the discretion of the staff.

    However, according to regulations, farmers are required to bring their tax cert with them so they can tax their jeep commercially. They can also produce their online receipt for their farm payments like the ANC or Single Farm Payment.

    Gerry Loftus told Midwest News that he sought the information to clear up the matter for farmers who had been in touch with the INHFA.

  • The Agriculture Minister needs to put an aid package in place for farmers worst affected by the ongoing fodder crisis – that’s according to the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association.

    With further wet weather this week, and fodder supplies being depleted, the situation is very serious for many farmers across the West and Northwest region, but the INHFA says the Minister’s fodder transport subsidy has not worked, as very few farmers have applied, and an aid package is now needed.

    The Mayo chairman of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association Gerry Loftus says they’re now writing to TDs across the country to appeal to Minister Michael Creed for financial assistance….

  • The Agriculture Minister Michael Creed should remove the 5% reduction requirement as a condition for entry in to the €100 million beef support scheme - that's according to the Irish Natura & HillFarmers Association.

    The closing date for the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure has been extended until Sunday week 15th Sept, due to the low number of applications from eligible farmers.

    Colm O'Donnell, President of the INHFA believes the lower than expected uptake us is due to the conditions attached, particularly the reduction requirement, and has called on Minister Creed to remove this requirement....

  • The introduction of compulsory electronic tagging of sheep from 1st October next is unworkable, according to the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association, which has called for the starting date to be deferred.

    The farming group also says that, if Minister Michael Creed persists with the October 1st start date, a derogation would be required for all lambs traded before this with a single conventional tag.

    Vice-President of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association Brendan Joyce says his two main concerns with the Minister's decision to introduce compulsory electronic tagging from the start of October are the timing, and the cost.




    The Department of Agriculture needs to re-assess farm inspections, while level 5 Covid restrictions are in place.

    That's according to the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association, which claims farmers are concerned about the risk of contracting the virus as they seek to comply with farm inspections.

    Vincent Roddy, Director of Policy with the INHFA, told Midwest News that one of the difficulties is that farmers often need help in gathering their stock to have the animals penned for the inspection, and this could put them in direct contact with people who are not part of their immediate family circle.

  • The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) is contesting the narrative that the current CAP proposals will undermine the income of Irish farmers.

    Mayo Chair Seamus Cosgrave argues that nationally, under a full flattening of payments,  72,710 farmers will gain, representing 60% of all farmers while in Mayo, 8116 farmers will benefit which accounts for 73% of the county's farmers.

    With the EU Parliament holding their ground for the full flattening of payments it is he says “unbelievable that a Parliament in Brussels is more in touch with the needs of Irish farmers than many of the public and farming representatives here.

    A full flattening of Pillar 1 payments would see all farmers paid a national average by 2026 of €265/ha which includes the proposed eco-scheme. This will be delivered through the convergence of payments over the lifetime of the CAP Programme.

    For Mayo this would see an annual increase in payments to the counties farmers of €15 million”

    Another proposal outlined at EU level is the option to front-load payments through the Complementary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS). This, he says “allows countries to target additional payments on the first number of hectares to support small holders. To fund this, a country can put a limit on the maximum payment and if required apply a cut to the overall Pillar 1 budget”.

    Seamus Cosgrove says the INHFA are supporting this as “it will benefit small holders and potentially increase the payments for farmers on the first 10-20ha to over €300/ha. This will be critical to a county like Mayo where the average farm size is 22ha”.

  • A public meeting with European Election candidates will take place this Thursday evening (May 16th) at 8pm in St. Bridget's Hall, Tubbercurry.

    The meeting is organised by the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA).

    Among the topics that will be addressed is the  enhancement of services and the delivery of quality water, developing towns and rural communities, and protecting family farms.

    There will be an opportunity for the public to listen and engage with the candidates.

  • The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association are insisting that current Commission proposals under the CAP Reform relating to the protection of wetlands and peatlands, referred to as Carbon rich soils does not become another designation.

    Gerry Loftus of the INHFA says that land designations implemented over 20 years ago remain a major issue for many farmers.

    Farmers on designated land were he added “sold out despite having pristine habitats that are critically important for our flora and fauna.” For some he stated “the designations undermined their farming activity and left them vulnerable under land eligibility inspections.”

  • The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association recently received further recognition for its work on behalf of its members.

    At the farm organisation’s recent annual general meeting (AGM) in the Sligo Southern Hotel, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, extended an invitation to the INHFA to participate in a number of committees.

    Addressing those gathered at the AGM, Minister Creed said: “I am pleased to extend an invitation to the INHFA to participate now in the Farmers Charter Monitoring Committee, in the Rural Development Monitoring Committee and in the Direct Payments Advisory Committee.

    Gerry Loftus of the INHFA says this is a huge step forward for the organisation.

  • Any environmental changes which will be required in the agricultural sector will cost money – and the bulk of the adjustments will have to be made by the dairy sector, according to director of Teagasc Professor Gerry Boyle.

    Professor Boyle was speaking after Teagasc’s report yesterday which found that dairy farms produce three times more greenhouse gas emissions than beef enterprises.

    The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association has been reacting to the report and Professor Boyle’s comments.

    Gerry Loftus, who is also a member of the association’s committee on forestry and climate change, says that not all farmers are equal and it would not fair to penalise all farmers in the same manner when it comes to combating climate change.

    He said they are happy to see that Teagasc has recognised this in this report and that rural Ireland is at a disadvantage when it comes to agriculture and profit margins in farming.

    It is believed the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change’s report of recommendations, due to be published tomorrow will recommend a “fundamental redirection of Irish agriculture” away from a reliance on dairy and beef and move towards horticulture.

  • The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association is holding a rally in the Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny on Friday next (January 25th) at 8pm.

    The rally is being held to highlight changes in the next round of CAP payments, which the INHFA say will have a huge impact on farmers in the next 6 years.

    INHFA National President Colm O’Donnell says the new conditions farmers will have to adhere to in order to get their Basic Payment are a cause of concern.

    Mr O’Donnell also says the Areas of Natural Constraint review and proposals will also be discussed on the night.

  • It has been announced that the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association has reached an agreement to supply 400 light lambs per week to Kepak Athleague.

    The INHFA confirmed this news at their recent AGM.

    The organisation have emphasised that this is a partnership effort between the farmers, Kepak and Bord Bia.

    Gerry Loftus of the INHFA says that for the last 10 years or more, there has been no light lamb quoted for by any factory.

    The INHFA will be supplying 400 light lambs a week to Kepak, from a carcass weight of 10kg to 15kg,starting on August 1.

  • A new study shows more land was planted to forestry in Mayo last year than in four of the country's leading dairy counties combined.

    531 hectares of land in Mayo were planted by private concerns in 2017 - while the total for Waterford, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Limerick was just 515 hectares.

    Leitrim had the largest amount of land planted to forestry last year, followed by Mayo, Clare and Roscommon.

    The figures for private planting were outlined in the Dáil this week by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, which shows the unbalanced nature of private planting in Ireland, with most activity concentrated in the west and north midlands.

    The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association has opposed the level of planting in the west.


    The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) are to hold a protest to highlight the need for a fodder aid scheme that will deliver for farmers who are experiencing fodder shortages.

    Gerry Loftus of the INHFA outlined how the Minister has ignored the principal recommendation of the stakeholders committee which was for a meal voucher.

    While Mr. Loftus said the transport subsidy “was also recommended”, he said its restrictive nature has ensured it will “not deliver for most farmers”.

    The INHFA decision which was taken by its national council, will involve a protest at the Department of Agriculture Offices in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim on Monday morning at 10.30am.