FAFT welcomes court case outcome

Farmers against Fox Hunting and Trespass (FAFT) welcomes the outcome of the defamation case brought by two County Kilkenny farmers against a senior hunt official. On February 4th, Hubert and Norman Daniels were awarded in excess of 30,000 Euro against Mr. Edward Norris of the Kilkenny Hunt in Kilkenny Circuit.

Aside from the defamation issue, we note that Norman and Hubert Daniels, the farmers concerned, had been videotaping hunt activity for years in an attempt to deter incursion by hunts on their land.

FAFT would make the point that many other farmers around the country have similar concerns, and indeed have had extremely negative experiences involving foxhunts. Extensive damage is caused every year by hunts trespassing on land and wreaking havoc in their pursuit of foxes. We believe that foxhunting is the scourge of modern agriculture.

Farming is a business and a farmer’s land is his “workshop”. The arrival onto his land of scores of horses, hounds and hunt followers to cause mayhem and destruction is the exact equivalent of having a gang of vandals break into a factory and running riot…breaking machines and furniture, and frightening the living daylights out of the workers. Such an incursion would not be tolerated, yet farmers nationwide have to contend with the ever present threat of hunt invasion and vandalism.

Farmers have to observe certain rules of good farming practise. There are books to be kept and records of animals with correct dates, numbers, and tags. Every farmer is required not to spread slurry at certain times of year. He cannot leave land exposed in winter- fallow or poached. He has to keep his hedges stock proof. He has to avail of the latest electric fencing and numerous other expensive modern aids to prevent animals from straying onto roads that are busier now than at any time in history. 

These requirements are enshrined in law, and any breach on the farmer’s part can result in severe penalties, including withdrawal or drastic reduction of monetary payments, impacting drastically on his income and livelihood, or, in extreme cases, forcing him out of farming altogether. 

This is the background to the plight of the two farmers who found themselves in court in the defamation suit against the Kilkenny Hunt official. Their refusal to allow hunts on their lands has to be seen in the light of those factors.  Like other farmers, they have to keep their fences stock proof, their animals safe; their land in proper condition to give early grass, and they must have sufficient winter fodder, to keep their animals well fed and bedded for winter. 

How can hunts be allowed then to undermine or even destroy attempts by farmers to meet all these requirements and to comply with the various EU and IFA rules? 

IFA rules state that hunts must seek permission before passing over their lands and cannot encroach on any property without such permission.  In practise, however, hunts routinely flout these rules, damaging fences, tearing up fields of valuable crops, traumatising livestock and scattering herds of sheep and cattle in all directions. When challenged by farmers about this rural vandalism, the hunters haughtily laugh off the protests and look down their noses at the victimised landowners as if nothing had happened.  FAFT sees this behaviour not just in terms of trespass and damage caused: We also regard it as a form of bullying. We assert the right of all farmers to stand up to the foxhunts, to the clear and present danger they pose to the interests and incomes of those who struggle to make a living off the land.

We have enough challenges facing us without the hunt “cavalry” visiting mayhem on our lives and legitimate enterprises. We urge Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to include a total ban on foxhunting in the Animal Health and Welfare Bill that is currently proceeding through the Oireachtas. Drag hunting could replace it, enabling an artificial scent to be laid so as to avoid farmland and all lands declared off limits to hunting.

Philip P Lynch
Chairman, Farmers against Foxhunting and Trespass

Tel: 056-77 25 309



Farmers against foxhunting speak out

Metro Eireann, February 15, 2012

In recent weeks articles have appeared in a number of newspapers and magazines that seem to glorify foxhunting, an activity that involves people riding roughshod over the rights and livelihoods of farmers. Indeed, I believe that foxhunts did not have solicitors and judges riding with them, it’s in jail where a lot of hunters would end up.

One farmer I know in Co Westmeath has still not been paid for the loss of his pedigree herd of sheep, valued at over €30,000, that were destroyed after the trespassing of the local hunt on his land. He’s just one of many farmers throughout this country – the real countryside alliance – with bills for damage incurred by mounted foxhunts to various degrees, almost none of which have been paid.
The hated absentee landlords were run out of this country years ago, and we farmers do not want their lackeys back. We do not want them stomping in their jodhpurs and jackboots on the people of the countryside, like the mothers forced to make 10-mile detours to get their children to and from school when the arrogant hunt yeomanry are on the road.
Mounted foxhunts are the curse of the countryside. In 2012 almost all farmers are commercial, with high input costs, and are dependant for their livelihoods on a high return from their crops, livestock, milk, beef and lamb. No farmer wants his work on his important fences destroyed and vandalised. No farmer wants his livestock terrorised even in sheds and his crops and early grass trampled into the ground. The great Irish horse industry, too, can do without hunts next nor near their stud farms exciting their valuable horses.
Why are such hunts even necessary? Equestrian centres offering all kinds of horsey excitement and drag hunting are common throughout Ireland today. Are the foxhunts too poor or too mean to join them? Or is it that they so desperately need the thrill of riding over the rights of farmers?
We also ask hunts to quit provoking or verbally abusing us farmers. I would remind them that the farmer holds a vermin licence that allows him to shoot unleashed dogs that he sees as a threat to his livestock. This has already happened in Kilkenny, Waterford, and Limerick. Let me say in all sincerity that we farmers do not want to shoot anyone’s dog, but we cannot allow our animals to suffer because of irresponsible owners. People have a duty to keep their dogs under control.
We appeal to the Government to do us all a favour and ban fox hunting in Ireland, as has been done the UK. At present the agricultural sector is saving this country. In return we deserve to be given a hand, not a kick.
And to those arrogant, irresponsible, dangerous and often foul-mouthed foxhunting people, we say: Stay off our land! We croppies will not lie down.

Philip P Lynch, chairman,
Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass
Mallardstown, Callan, Co Kilkenny