The United Farmers Association (UFA) is calling on Minister Coveney to scrap the proposal to implement his collective agreement for farmers with commonage land and invite all stakeholders in this especially the farmers on the ground to discuss and plan a way forward that all parties can agree on.

In a statement today it said: “As it stands we see many issues with the proposed collective agreement but to concentrate on two. Firstly the very idea that one farmer could be penalised for the actions of another farmer is fundamentally wrong. Imagine if on employer tried to introduce this in a workplace – there would be a walkout there and then or at the very least a call for strike action. A dangerous precedent is being set here and one that could be introduced at a future date for all farmers under cross compliance.”

The UFA also says on pillar one payments that “it is its understanding that any farmer with commonage land will either have to join a collective agreement in order to draw down their Single Farm Payment, or give up their claim on the commonage land, in order to draw down their single Farm Payment on the remainder of their land. All of this is going to cause major problems for any farmer with commonage land and will not achieve the objective of getting all commonages to GAEC level.”

UFA also believes that it is not too late to redraft the current policy. It says “Proposals which have being made by the Hill Farmers for Action seem reasonable and could form the basis for a way forward. But before all of this happens Minister Coveney and the Department needs to be willing to put aside their collective agreement and look at what can work.”