The Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA) has called for all farmers to be treated equally under the new CAP in terms of land eligibility and conditionality.

“[The] ICSA is extremely concerned at the ongoing failure to treat all farmers equally in terms of land eligibility and conditionality under the GAEC provisions,” president Dermot Kelleher has said.

“The introduction of GAEC 2, which covers peatlands and wetlands, is a further retrograde step, which, instead of helping the environment, is actively undermining the very farmers we expect to provide environmental public goods.”

Contradictory treatment

The ICSA has said that it is concerned that extra GAEC provisions will raise the bar for mandatory conditionality and increase the risk that peatland and wetland could be excluded altogether from CAP payments.

“The provision makes it harder for farmers to not only farm, but also to benefit from eco schemes and from agri-environment schemes,” Kelleher continued.

“This is because the more excessive the mandatory conditionality, the less options are left for payments for voluntary actions.

“GAEC 2 puts farmers on peatlands and wetlands into a special category that disadvantages them compared to other farmers.

“This is just the latest example of how CAP is contradictory in its treatment of farmers.”

No penalties

Kelleher said he supported the legal challenge against the LPIS review on penalties in 2013, as he believed the farmers most heavily affected were those on marginal ground.

“This legal challenge by a group of disadvantaged farmers has been dragged out because it appears the State is unable to explain why it is fair that farmers should have red lines drawn on maps to exclude land from Pillar 1 payments, even though all the emphasis from Brussels is on habitat maintenance and creation in the interests of biodiversity.

“The fundamental point is that farmers on the less productive ground cannot be disadvantaged or penalised in any way whatsoever.”