Farmers worry about insurance as good weather attracts walkers to countryside

'There is a financial risk for farmers'  
Farmers worry about insurance as good weather attracts walkers to countryside

Visitors walking near Three Castle Head in West Cork during the week. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Concerns have been expressed this week over the responsibility of farmers in relation to the Comhairle na Tuaithe’s Countryside Code as people take advantage of the good weather and holiday throughout the country.

Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) National Hill Committee Chairman, Flor McCarthy said there has been a “huge increase” in recreational users throughout the countryside in recent weeks.

And, farmers have become concerned over the financial risk they are carrying as a result of that increase in activity on their lands.

"IFA is, and always has been, in favour of recreational walking, but the farmer can't carry a financial risk from this activity,” Mr McCarthy added.

“The insurance/indemnity issue is ongoing for farmers.

“While details of a pilot insurance policy have been discussed, there is currently nothing in place to provide farmers with indemnification.

“The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, must ensure the proposed pilot insurance policy is implemented without delay.

“We have always supported the process, but we feel the progress is far too slow at this stage".

Respect 

Mr McCarthy also said that while it is encouraging to see people getting out, walking on hills, and utilising the various dedicated trails around them, they are, nonetheless obliged to respect farmers' property and abide by the Countryside Code.

"This includes a stipulation that dogs cannot be taken onto trails whether they are on a lead or not,” he added.

“While most people observe the code, some blatantly disregard it.

“It has also come to IFA's attention that dogs are wandering off Coillte and National Parks trails onto private land.

“People are welcome to use the dedicated and agreed walks throughout the country. 

However, they must observe the rules, including the exclusion of dogs.”

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