The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) outlined their concerns on the proposed Nature Restoration Regulation to representatives of the EU Commission at a meeting in Brussels this week.The Regulation which mandates for legally binding targets in restoring specific ecosystems that in Ireland will see drastic changes to farming practices on our farmed peat soils.
Speaking after the meeting INHFA National President expressed concern on the policy direction, which he stated “places an unfair burden on the thousands of farmers operating on peat soils.”There is, he continued “no doubt that the EU Commission want to rewet the 300,000ha of drained peatlands which they maintain will help in the capture of carbon. This was a point they made on a number of occasions during the meeting.”
INHFA representatives at the meeting challenged the proposed rewetting and other restoration proposals which will also impact farmers both on the drained peatlands and on our uplands.The impact of these proposals both on farmers and the wider rural community was also discussed. On this the INHFA leader outlined how there was an acceptance that proposed options such as blueberry and cranberry cultivation or the farming of water buffalo was not a viable alternative for Irish farmers.
When challenged by INHFA representatives on this, Commission officials were unable to provide viable options to replace current farming practices, most notably livestock rearing. This Roddy stated “will leave farmers total dependant on EU or State support and without farming activity will undermine the rural economy and many communities currently dependent on the economic activity created through farming practices.”
In concluding, Roddy stressed how this week’s meeting, while challenging, is only the beginning of a process, stating “how in the weeks and months ahead the INHFA will work both at home and in Brussels to protect the interests of the estimated 40,000 farmers currently threatened by this regulation.”