Macra na Feirme has warned that the implementation of proposals around GAEC 2 restrictions may lead to farmland abandonment, which has potential for negative impacts on farmland biodiversity and local economies.

The comments come following a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture on Wednesday where Macra raised concerns around GAEC 2 which proposes more designation on peatland soils, the general environmental ambition of the CAP and the effect the EU Biodiversity strategy may have on access to land.

Macra president Thomas Duffy highlighted the need for supports for generational renewal for farmers on peat soils and uplands.

“These areas will be disproportionately impacted by such moves to restrict traditional farming on these land types,” Duffy warned.

“The Teagasc sustainability report demonstrates that the enterprises most commonly found in these areas are already suffering due to higher than average age profiles such as in beef and sheep farming.”

Macra has said that in order to protect these environments, young farmers must be encourage into these areas.

Stamp duty

The Department of Finance and Public Expenditure is currently undertaking a review of stamp duty relief. Macra believes that this relief is a key element for access to land for young farmers.

“As noted in the report by the European Economic Social Committee ‘Evaluation of the impact of the CAP on generational renewal’, it is recommended that member states should incentivise generational renewal by minimising the costs and taxes associated with the inter-generational transfer of farms,” Duffy said.

“The Government needs to do everything it can to ensure adequate access to land for young farmers. The Minister for Agriculture must ensure stamp duty relief continues and updating of the taxation code to reflect the modern collaborative model.”