Farmers and policy-makers discuss the future of high-nature-value farming, on the farm
EFNCP recently organised a farm visit for policy-makers and farmers in Co. Fermanagh (Northern Ireland), in conjunction with the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB). Pat McGurn kindly hosted the event. His farm, highlighted in the recent EFNCP book High Nature Value Farming in Europe, contains a great range of semi-natural vegetation including species rich grasslands, lowland hay meadows, woodland and raised bog. The farm also contains area of lowland wet grasslands which are important breeding sites for Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) and Curlew (Numenius arquata).
The visitors included NGOs, Department of Agriculture and Rural development (DARD) and farmers with similar habitats in Fermanagh. It was an excellent opportunity to highlight the amount of work involved in maintaining these farming systems but also as a platform for exchanging information between DARD policy makers and farmers participating in the agri-environment scheme.
DARD are presently involved in designing a new agri-environment scheme for their next Rural Development Programme and EFNCP feel that this bringing together of nature conservationists, farmers and policy makers helps to increase understanding of the nature-conservation and cultural value of certain farming systems and contribute to improved measures within the Rural Development Programme.