4 MAY 2021
ICSA president Dermot Kelleher has said that farmers on less productive land must be treated equally in the new CAP. “ICSA is extremely concerned at the ongoing failure to treat all farmers equally in terms of land eligibility and conditionality under the GAEC provisions (Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition). I have fought long and hard on the principle that farmers should not be penalised based on the ground they happen to farm.
The introduction of GAEC 2 which covers peatlands and wetlands is a further retrograde step which, instead of helping the environment, is actively undermining the very farmers we expect to provide environmental public goods,” he said.
“The key concern I have is that the extra GAEC provisions raise the bar for mandatory conditionality and therefore increase the risk that peatland and wetland could be excluded altogether from CAP payments. But even if that is not the case, the provision makes it harder for farmers to not only farm, but also to benefit from eco-schemes and from agri-environment schemes. This is because, the more excessive the mandatory conditionality, the less options are left for payments for voluntary actions. GAEC 2 puts farmers on peatlands and wetlands into a special category that disadvantages them compared to other farmers.”
“This is just the latest example of how CAP is contradictory in its treatment of farmers. I supported the legal challenge against the LPIS review penalties arising in 2013 precisely because the farmers most extremely affected were those on marginal ground. This legal challenge by a group of disadvantaged farmers has been dragged out because it appears the state is unable to explain why it is fair that farmers should have red lines drawn on maps to exclude land from Pillar 1 payments even though all the emphasis from Brussels is on habitat maintenance and creation in the interests of biodiversity.”
“The fundamental point is that farmers on the less productive ground cannot be disadvantaged or penalised in any way whatsoever. ICSA will fight to the bitter end to establish the principle that farmers on less productive ground actually need more financial aid because they can deliver the most in terms of climate change, water quality and biodiversity. But they cannot do this if they are made financially unviable.”