Irish Natura And Hill Farmers Association Policies - Land Eligibility

Land Eligiblity

During 2014 and early 2015 a number of Department of Agriculture inspections targeted at marginal, mountain and commonage lands resulted in farmers receiving penalties of up to 100% on their Single Payment Scheme. These penalties were imposed on the basis of insufficient farming activity. Yet in doing so the Department of Agriculture never set out a criteria for what they defined as insufficient farming activity. Neither did they take into account the environmental condition of these lands or indeed carry out an appropriate assessment where lands had a designation on them – most of the lands targeted had designations on them.

The consequences

The consequences of these inspections were two-fold. For any farmer that had land deemed ineligible there was an immediate loss of income for 2014 and a continued loss of income for the duration of the CAP Program till 2020. For all other farmers especially those on marginal lands, they were left with the dilemma of what land to take out and what land should they leave in when filling out their Basic Payment Forms. As the Department had no criteria defined then this became a guessing game that could cost farmers a lot of money.

Getting results

During the Spring of 2015 the INHFA highlighted this issue through our own public meetings and the media. We also challenge the Department through the media, the public information meetings they held on CAP and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture to justify their inspection model. Private meetings were also held with Senior Department of Agriculture Officials to try and advance a solution. All of this created the desired effect as by mid-April Land Eligibility had become the major issue in farming circles and one that could no longer be ignored. Significant moves were made by the Department on the 21st April when they announced that provided land is available for grazing then it meets the criteria for eligibility. Other issues around eligibility were highlighted such as burning, the definition of a bogland, heather height, the density of furs and other invasive species. However these are issues we would expect to get resolved and are presently seeking clarification on.

"Seeking Fairness Not Favouritism"


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