The number of farmers who did not satisfy the minimum space for nature (SFN) requirement for GAEC 8 will now be able to qualify for the new Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS), the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has confirmed.

While the majority of farmers had over 10% SFN on their farm, the Department estimated that just under 300 farmers had less than 4% SFN, which meant they would not meet the GAEC 8 requirements for the BISS.

The GAECs are statutory requirements that must be adhered to.

The vast majority of farmers impacted by this were extensive hill farmers often operating on designated lands, INHFA president Vincent Roddy said.

This anomaly, he stated, was a major concern for the organisation and was highlighted to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and Department of Agriculture officials as soon as it became apparent last September.


"We have been corresponding with the Department to ensure a solution is found within the CAP framework," Roddy said.

"This solution has been found and will involve exemptions for farmed peatlands defined under GAEC 2, similar to the exemptions currently in place for farmers with commonage lands."

This, Roddy added, should ensure compliance under GAEC 8 for the vast majority of farmers currently affected and where farmers still have a problem, there will be the option to fence off parts of the field or land parcel identification system (LPIS) plots and create an SFN habitat.

“While we don’t anticipate there being a major requirement to create such a habitat, it is vital that this option is still available for the small number of farmers that could be still impacted,” he said.

In welcoming the progress on this, the INHFA president outlined how farmers currently affected will see the necessary changes made to their maps on

"This is very positive news, along with the acceptance of the 46,000 farmers who applied for the ACRES scheme. It was vital that those farmers were accepted into the new environmental scheme, as it shows that farmers are willing to embrace positive contributions to Ireland's environmental ambition," Roddy said.

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Majority of farms to surpass space for nature requirement