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CAP proposal could see 50,000 farmers on peat-soils lose payments

THE Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) is calling on the Minister for Agriculture to intervene and ensure a Council of Ministers proposal with regard to the management of peat-soils is withdrawn.

The council’s proposal, covered under eligible hectare in GAEC 2, will, said INHFA president Colm O’Donnell, 'create a situation that agricultural activity on these peat-soils is no longer allowed as farmers are required to carry out actions that will make farming activity impossible'.

“If this happens then the land impacted will not be viewed as an agricultural area, making the area concerned ineligible for CAP payments,” he warned.

This, he said, is a major concern especially for the estimated 50,000 farmers across one million hectares with varying amounts of peat-soils. For these farmers the application of GAEC 2 under the proposed council text will create 'another designation'.

Since the text first appeared, the INHFA have been making representations to public representatives here and in Brussels highlighting the dangers that are in the proposal.

The council, he added, are aware of its potential impact, 'which is why they have recommended the introduction of a derogation'. This derogation will, they maintain, ensure payments for farmers where their land is made ineligible as a result of complying with the conditions they have set out for GAEC 2.

Mr. O'Donnell questioned why the Council of Ministers would consider creating a condition that they recognise is unattainable.

Derogations such as this are not unique, he said. “We have a very similar derogation in place on the current CAP for farmers who have land made ineligible as a result of complying with the conditions set out in our Natura Directives (SAC and SPA designations).”

Unfortunately for farmers with Natura land, this derogation has, he stressed, 'been a spectacular failure'.

“With a success rate of less than 1.5% any farmer would be very foolish to put their trust in a similar derogation for GAEC 2 in the upcoming CAP,” he said.

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