The Department of Agriculture have announced that they are going ahead with implementing plans which will see a change in the way Ireland’s commonages are managed and farmed.
Ireland has 7,000 commonage areas with around 14,000 farmers having rights to these. These farmers are to be notified soon on the minimum number of sheep they have to graze and the maximum number of sheep they are allowed to graze in order to qualify for the single farm payments, agri-environmental schemes and disadvantaged areas schemes. For example in Ballycrinnigan and Dranagh, Co. Carlow (where I did my MA research) the minimum number of sheep to be grazed will be 490 and the maximum 545 for Ballycrinnigan and the minimum for Daranagh ser at 63 and the maximum at 70. This could see a lot of pressure on farmers. I wonder also if it will see more illegal burning as the limits on sheep could see more growth and as this goes out of control in some parts, farmers might not want to see a patch of land go to wast and thus old vegetation will be burnt off.
Another issue that will be covered in the notification is who else has rights to the commonage. There are various levels of shareholders or rights to commonage areas; active (those who regularly graze), inactive (those with a share who do not graze) and dormant (those who dont apply for a share but have the right to do so). It will be up to these shareholders themselves to sort out how the total stock numbers are met. This is the most controversial part and could see trouble in some areas!
The Irish Farmers Journal have a break down county by county of townlands affected and the minimum number of stock that can be grazed on the commonage.
Here’s what the IFA had to say on the issue.