Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine "if minimum-maximum figures are available for commonage (details supplied) as per the commonage reviews; and if he will supply same".
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney replied;
"The Deputy will be aware that the discussions on the management and grazing of commonages have been ongoing for some time. This is a complex matter in view of the involvement of a number of applicants claiming the same lands, the need to respect the traditional farming and environmental practices and the requirement to maintain the lands in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition. Following the completion of the CAP Reform negotiations and the finalisation of the more detailed rules for the implementation of the Reform in relation to Pillar 1 and Pillar 11 Schemes, I am now in a better position to move this process forward.
My intention is to shortly set out proposals on how the matter can best be progressed. My overall objectives are to ensure that farmers farming these lands are protected, that the environmental benefit from the point of view of bio-diversity, wildlife, etc. is maintained or restored and those that benefit from payments on the lands fully meet the requirements of the governing EU Regulations. Initially, my Department intends to write to all claimants of commonage lands in Ireland detailing the outline of the approach to be pursued. In view of the complexity of the matter, my intention is to involve all stakeholders in this process and I shall be making further announcements on this matter in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, it would be inappropriate to comment on the activity required for any individual commonage".
From this response it would seem that commonage farmers can expect a letter from the Dept. of Agriculture in the coming weeks. This will describe the approach that the Dept. of Agriculture intends to take. After a long halt it seems that things are moving quite quickly now, with the publication of the RDP last week and now this announcement from the Minister. I would be surprised if the Dept of Agriculture do not expand further on this matter at the Teagasc Hill Sheep conference in Bantry later this week.