Should farmers be paid to assist with flood management?

Farmers have a significant role to play when it comes to flood management, according to the leader of the Green Party, Eamon Ryan.

In recent years, the flooding of towns and farmland surrounding rivers across the country has become more common.

Earlier this year, it was confirmed that the Government will allocate €1 billion to flood risk management measures over the coming decade.

Also Read: 50 new flood relief schemes allocated over €250 million

Despite this planned investment for engineering works, deputy Ryan believes that there is an “additional approach” that the Government should examine.

The Dublin Bay South TD is of the opinion that land management can be seen as a form of flood management and that farmers could be paid for their services under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Speaking to AgriLand, he said: “It could be letting certain land areas go back to being wetlands.

For years we have been draining land and reclaiming land – it could well be a mechanism where we say: ‘To help us with flood management, to stop the fast run-off and to act as a store system for heavy rain – we’re looking at these areas as a [flood preventative measure].’

The leader of the Green Party acknowledged that it would be against most farmers’ instincts to let land – which they may previously have drained and reclaimed – go back to being wetlands.

But he stressed that the Government should be “absolutely committed to paying the landowners for that” and that it should be managed in a way that the transition does not occur on a “land abandonment basis“.

CAP reform

As part of the upcoming reform of the CAP, deputy Ryan said that there are a number of ways that farmers should get paid under the policy.

Continuing, he said: “I think there is real space for us in the CAP negotiations to put a price on the storage of carbon and to pay farmers directly for that.”

As well as this, he recommended that farmers should get paid for providing water management services, improving biodiversity on their land and investing in renewable energy projects.