New CAP must deliver for most productive lands says INHFA

The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association have outlined the need to ensure that lands designated special area of conservation (SAC) and special protected areas (SPA) are adequately catered for in the upcoming CAP reform.

On a per hectare basis these lands are stated INHFA President Colm O’Donnell “delivering a higher financial benefit to the Irish economy than all other lands which is a fact that has been ignored for far too long.”

These lands are he maintained “delivering up to €3,000/ha/year which makes them the most productive in the country.”
This assessment is based on the European Union’s Nature Fitness Check which details how Europe’s Natura 2000 network (containing SAC & SPA lands) is valued at between €200-300 billion per year. This valuation when translated to Ireland equates to between €2.6 and 3.1 billion per year or €3000/ha.”

Farmers operating on these lands have, stressed the INHFA leader “been restricted through the 38 Activities Requiring Consent for the past 20 years. Unfortunately, this fact has escaped some farmers and their representatives who have questioned the agricultural output of these lands while never acknowledging the obvious restrictions and how these impacts on this output.”
In discussing the EU Nature Fitness Check, O’Donnell stated “how this puts a monetary value on the benefits farmers on these lands are delivering in terms of improved biodiversity, better water and air quality while also helping to mitigate against climate change.”

“With the new CAP prioritising the need to deliver on these environmental concerns, it is essential that farmers who have had their farming activity and income curtailed through these restrictions, are rewarded for the public good they provide in terms of environmental output” added O’Donnell

The current CAP has he maintained “failed spectacularly in delivering for farmers on these designated lands. This must change and the new CAP provides us with the opportunity to address this. Parity of payment through a flat rate BISS for farmers with the highest environmental restrictions is essential. This in addition to automatic entry to the eco-scheme for all farmers impacted by the Natura designations is a minimum requirement under the Pillar 1 Programme.”

In concluding the INHFA President stressed the need “for the EU and Irish State to do what they have not done so far and pay farmers for the public good they are providing. With the Irish economy benefiting to the tune of €2-3 billion each year there can no longer be an excuse to not do so.”