Over 200,000ha of land should be eligible for biodiversity farm payments. in an effort to move towards more environmental farming, according to Fianna Fáil spokesperson on agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

The Donegal TD said that there is a “clear contradiction” in the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which he said is “negating increasing environmental measures on land farmed”.

Continuing, deputy McConalogue said: “Recent information which I received from Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed confirms there are over 200,000ha of land – which includes scrubland, streams and recreational areas – that is high in biodiversity but is ineligible under Pillar I CAP payments.

“This marginal land should be eligible for payments,” he said.

It seems hypocritical not to permit land for eligibility under CAP, given that it provides carbon storage and is rich in biodiversity.

“Farmers often cite the very high biodiversity value of this land nationwide. However, many are selected for remote sensing land eligibility inspections for various area-based schemes – under 7,000 were in 2019,” the TD claimed.

“The Government must make the case to European authorities that this land should be eligible under the next CAP and at least qualify for biodiversity payments under the Rural Development Programme,” deputy McConalogue concluded.