Four workshops took place in late July and early August in four locations across the country; Maam Cross, Co. Galway, Castletownbere, Co.Cork, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow and Sligo town, Co. Sligo. Sligo TV attended the Sligo workshop and the piece can be viewed here
Sixty farmers in total participated. Before the workshops commenced participants were asked to fill out a very short questionnaire. This questionnaire asked farmers to describe the land they farm in five words. A word-cloud was generated based on these words. The larger the word, the more often it was used in the questionnaire responses. The results of this can be seen below.
The wordcloud gives us an insight into the type of land that farmers in HNV areas have.
The workshop began with an overview of the IDEAL-HNV project and High Nature Value farmland in general. Some research into the types of HNV farmland in Ireland was then presented. This was followed by a general discussion on the challenges faced by farmers in HNV farmland areas and solutions or innovations that might help reduce these challenges.
The challenges identified in all regions fit under four headings:
- Keeping people on the land
- Land type
- Government Agencies
In all regions there was concern about the next generation of farmer in Ireland and where supports to encourage them to stay on the land will come from. All regions identified the hill land or wet lowlands that they were farming as requiring very specific management. Careful consideration of stock type, stock breed, stock numbers and land condition were required. All regions highlighted the impacts that poor weather can have on farming these areas such as high costs of supplementary feeding and also a lack of opportunities to save their own hay or silage some years (including this year). Finally, all regions highlighted the challenges they face when dealing with government agencies, particularly when they receive conflicting advice from two different agencies. They also felt that more regionalised advice would be more beneficial.
If you are interested in the challenges and potential solutions that were discussed or have any suggestions of your own, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A detailed report on the workshops will be available in due course.