The Dept of Agriculture have delayed the issuing of letters to individual commonage farmers informing them of new commonage requirements. The current state of play is unclear however The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney T.D. has responded to numerous parliamentary questions from among others Sean Kyne T.D., Joe McHugh T.D. and Eamon O Cuiv T.D.. The standard response in each case has been;
“The Commonage Framework Plans, first published in 2002, have been reviewed to take account of the current vegetative condition of commonages nationally. This review which will replace the Commonage Framework Plans has been carried out by the National Parks and Wildlife Service in co-operation with my Department. The review was carried out on a commonage LPIS basis and sets a minimum and maximum number of ewe equivalents (EE) required to graze the commonage parcel to ensure that it is maintained in Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC). I am currently considering an implementation plan to take account of the changed stocking levels.
My Department is trying to reconcile the reality of commonages with the EU requirement of GAEC. I will work with the farmers, farm organisations and others to design a practical solution”.
This answer is obviously just a holding statement, how far things have actually progressed since mid November is uncertain. The Christmas break, the burger scandal and the start of the EU presidency have probably all served to push the commonage issue further down the priority list. However the issue is still live and will have to be addressed at some time in the next year.