The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has outlined an amendment to the nature restoration law it feels will ensure any farmer engagement with the law is done on a voluntary basis and that CAP payments are safeguarded.

The INHFA has written to all MEPs and Oireachtas members outlining the amendment ahead of sign off on the law this February.

The proposed law, according to the INHFA, in its current form is a direct threat to CAP payments.

Proposed amendment

The obligation for member states to achieve the restoration target in the nature restoration law shall not imply an obligation for farmers to restore, re-establish or rewet their agricultural land. Nor does it imply that these agricultural lands are not in good condition and shall be eligible to continue to be supported under current and future CAP programmes. Engagement with the law shall be on a voluntary basis above and beyond CAP interventions.

Speaking on this, INHFA president Vincent Roddy detailed how the proposed law in its current form is a direct threat to CAP payments.

"Article 9 (4) of the compromise document on nature restoration, which was agreed last November, implies by definition that all drained agricultural peat soils need restoration."

This means, according to Roddy, that on the day the law comes into force, the legal status of this land will change to being officially not in good environmental condition.


This, he added, is a major threat to securing CAP payments, as eligibility for these payments is subject to these lands being in good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC).

"While these drained peatlands are an immediate concern, there is also concern around other lands subject to restoration covered under Article 4 of the law," he said.

Beyond the protection of CAP payments, the INHFA leader detailed how the amendment also promotes voluntary engagement over compulsory actions.

"We have been informed by Members of the European Parliament, public representatives here in Ireland and officials working with the [European] Commission that the targets set out in this law can be achieved primarily through State lands.

"In the event of there being a shortfall with regard to the lands needed, we have been informed that this shortfall will be made up through voluntary engagement with farmers and landowners who will be financially incentivised to engage and deliver on restoration targets.

"However, there is no place in this law that it has clearly specified voluntary engagement, which is a major flaw and of particular concern to us.

"The amendment we have outlined clearly specifies that engagement with the law is on a voluntary basis in addition to clarifying on the threat to CAP payments," Roddy said.

In relation to progressing the amendment, the INHFA president stressed how it will have to be tabled and supported by Irish MEPs.