The county Sligo man was yesterday elected as their first National President at an AGM.
Also elected as National Secretary on the day was Michéal McDonnell, Brendan O’Malley as Treasurer and Siobhan Ward as public relations officer.
The meeting also saw the group implement a new constitution which meant changing the role of National chair to National president.
Speaking after the meeting Mr. O'Donnell outlined his plans for the future, expressed delight on being appointed and also stressed the need for an organisation to represent farmers with hill and designated land as “more critical than ever as we head into new CAP negotiations while also dealing with the challenges of Brexit.”
He continued by adding that many of the organisations members need a CAP deal post 2020 that recognises difficulties facing hill farmers due to habitat conservation.
He said, “With farmers on designated lands required to seek permission for 39 different actions that other farmers need not worry about, they have stated O'Donnell “extra costs and a reduced earning potential that will have to be compensated.”
Other priorities outlined by O'Donnell was to ensure the Farmers Charter of Rights becomes part of the Terms & Conditions for all Schemes, which he says would ensure farmers receive their payments when due, unlike what has happened with GLAS.
He also mentioned that the establishment of an Independent Appeals Board with a full review and reinstatement of payments for all farmers who lost out under any Department inspection that did not have a control report.
On the Sheep Welfare Scheme Mr. O’Donnell insisted that the €25 million available should be spent on sheep welfare. He says this could exceed €5m be targeted as a top-up on the Hill ewe.
He concluded by highlighting the inequities in payment rates of the ANC Scheme which he says doesn’t reflect the land constraints, and he said they “need to be addressed in next years review.”
In the meantime he added “the €25m increase in this coming year’s scheme should be targeted at hill type land.”