The FarmPEAT European Innovation Partnerships (EIP) initiative has officially been launched by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett at an event with farmers in Clara, Co Offaly.

The €1.2m results-based scheme will see farmers with land on or bordering raised bogland rewarded for sustaining and improving biodiversity, water quality and carbon sequestration on their farms.

Forty-two farmers in the vicinity of eight raised bog sites have been selected by the Department to take part in the scheme, which will run as a pilot initiative for two years.

“The project will work with local farmers to design and trial a programme especially adapted to the local landscape.

“It will reward farmers for improved management of habitats on peat soils along with other important landscape features such as eskers, field boundaries and watercourses,” explained Minister Hackett.

“All of that will, I believe, combine to deliver enhanced environmental outcomes,” she announced to the farmers in attendance at the launch on Thursday.

Results orientated

The measures that farmers will be recommended to undertake to improve the score attained under the scheme have yet to be announced.

Participants will be guided through the scheme by the project personnel and, in later stages of the scheme, by their Teagasc advisers.

However, farmers will not be penalised for failing to act upon these recommendations. Rather, they will simply get a lower payment should the farm assessment determine that their scores have gone down.

“We are delighted with the interest that local farmers have expressed in the project.

“We are offering 42 farmers a contract for the first year and are planning to offer additional places next year,” stated FarmPEAT project manager Caroline Lalor.

Further details of the FarmPEAT scheme will be covered in next week’s Irish Farmers Journal.