The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association are insisting that current Commission proposals under the CAP Reform relating to the protection of wetlands and peatlands, referred to as carbon rich soils does not become another designation. Speaking at a meeting last Friday in Carrick-on-Shannon held by the organisation on ‘Current Challenges and the Future of the Family Farm’ spokesperson Gerry Loftus outlined how land designations implemented over 20 years ago remains a major issue for many farmers.
The imposition of SAC and SPA designations has he stated “through the 39 Actions Requiring Consent, seen major restrictions on these lands with permission required for matters such as fencing, draining, changing the type of stock or stocking levels, mulching, topping and much more.”
With no proper payment ever put in place for the cost incurred as a result of these designations Loftus cautioned on current Pillar 1 proposals which targets the appropriate protection of wetlands and peatlands under GAEC 2. This proposal he stated “will impose major restrictions and further compliance measures on many of our farmers for no extra income and is not acceptable as a Pillar 1 measure. The proposal he cautioned “would also undermine any payment under the Eco Scheme and any Agri-environmental Scheme in Pillar 2.
Farmers on designated land were he added “sold out despite having pristine habitats that are critically important for our flora and fauna.” For some he stated “the designations undermined their farming activity and left them vulnerable under land eligibility inspections.”
What happened through these designations needs to be addressed and he maintained “cannot be allowed happen on these carbon rich soils which are critically important especially for carbon sequestration.” Loftus concluded by stressing the importance of finding a mechanism of rewarding and not punishing this land, a mechanism that needs to extend way beyond the lifetime of the upcoming CAP.”