Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has said that farmers and landowners affected by the Leitrim landslide last year, can apply for their basic payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 2021 using a force majeure clause.

The issue of the mudslides on Shass mountain in Drumkeeran was raised in the Dáil this week (May 6) by independent TD Marian Harkin.

She stated that in order to apply for the basic payment scheme (BPS) or Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments, farmers had to declare that their land was in good agricultural condition.

The deputy said that because 170,000t of peat had been deposited on lands as a result of the landslide, farmers could not claim that their land is in good agricultural condition, unless they applied under force majeure which is an exceptional situation.

Leitrim landslide

Claiming payments after Leitrim landslide

Deputy Harkin asked Minister McConalogue if he would give the same commitment as the then agriculture minister Barry Cowen had given last year – that farmers could claim under force majeure and that there would be no penalties for such claims.

She said that there had not been positive engagement from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and that farmers have been treated badly.

“Farmers need to hear directly from you minister as to what plans or proposal you have in place to compensate them for the damage that has occurred,” the deputy said in the Dáil.

She pointed out that when landslides occurred elsewhere such as Inishowen, in the minister’s own constituency, she felt that farmers had been compensated in a timely manner, and that farmers in Leitrim deserved to be treated in the same way as farmers elsewhere.

Minister McConalogue gave assurances that this year’s farm payments would not be affected and that there would be proactive engagement from his officials in regard to compensation.