The Minister for Agriculture has announced that the new Commonage Implementation Committee will meet for the first time in the near future. This is a positive development as it is clear that the Committee has a lot to do and it is important that it begins its work very soon. In particular they need to manage the introduction of the new max/ min figures. These figures will require many farmers to adjust their stock numbers. Farmers must be able to take these into account when deciding on the number of ewes to be culled and how many hoggets' to be kept. If the min/ max figures are not published before the Autumn sales, farmers will be forced to make key decision in the dark. This would unnecessarily frustrate the process of increasing flock sizes and would be a bad start to a period of transition. It is in no ones interest that this should happen.
The full text of the Department of Agricultures Press Release is shown below.
"The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, announced today that all members of the new Commonage Implementation Committee have now been appointed and the Committee will announce its first meeting date shortly.
The Committee is chaired by Joe Healy, a livestock farmer from Galway and former President of Macra na Feirme, and former Chairman of Athenry Mart. He will be assisted by two senior Department officials with specific experience in this field and two technical experts, one from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and one from Teagasc. Also appointed to the Committee is Andy McGarrigle, former Head of the Department’s SPS Entitlement Division, who retired earlier this year.
The new Committee has two main terms of reference:
• To examine cases where there is disagreement by shareholders over proposed minimum/maximum stocking levels for commonages;
• To assist with instances where difficulties emerge in securing the necessary 50% agreement amongst active shareholders for participation in the new GLAS agri-environmental scheme
Commenting today, Minister Coveney said that his priority had been to get this Committee up-and running without delay. "I am very aware of the concern amongst commonage shareholders about these new proposals and I want to ensure that we iron-out any remaining issues in good time, with an eye to next year’s Single Farm Payment and applications for the new GLAS scheme. I believe this new Committee will play a key role in resolving specific issues at individual commonage level."