The Irish government is seeking “unprecedented powers” in the negotiation of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), to force farmers on peatlands and wetlands out of agricultural production, according to MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan.

MEP Flanagan has said that this is the “ultimate aim” of the European Council position, supported by Ireland, based on amendments they have tabled to the CAP strategic plan regulation.

The MEP claims that the proposed wording contained in the council definition of ‘eligible hectare’ would give “sweeping powers” to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

He has said it would allow the department “to set the bar so high in relation to environmental standards on peatlands and wetlands, that effectively farmers could no longer carry out any agricultural activity in order to qualify for the basic payment”.

Exclusion of farmers

MEP Flanagan adds that not only would farmers be forced out of production to be eligible for the basic payment, by doing so they would exclude themselves from the new eco-schemes to be introduced under Pillar l and environmental schemes in Pillar ll.

To avail of these schemes there is a requirement to be an active farmer carrying out an agricultural activity.

“This power grab has serious implications for farmers working these lands, and [has] the potential to be a greater imposition and constraint than the current natura designations,” the MEP added.

We keep hearing that we must have a ‘just transition’, but we are getting the total opposite.

“Those that currently farm in an extensive manner on peatlands and wetlands will get pushed out, in order that those who farm intensively on mineral soils will get a free pass on their environmental footprint to facilitate further expansion.”

MEP Flanagan is calling for Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue to make a statement on the matter, and is asking all TDs and public representatives to take the issue up with the minister, “to ensure this provision is taken off the table in advance of the final negotiations on the new CAP reform”.