Contradictory EU policies on land eligibility worsened by Government inaction - Liadh Ní Riada MEP
Speaking in North Cork today Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada said that the lack of interest or leadership from Government on the land eligibility issue was adding to the hardship and distress of many farmers. She echoed calls from Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Martin Ferris for the establishment of an independent working group on the issue.
“Farmers, especially those on marginal and disadvantaged land, are being subjected to penalties, onsite inspections, threats to income as a result of conflicting EU policies. One set of policies insists that, under CAP, farmers must ensure biodiversity, while another insists that areas of biodiversity are not eligible for CAP support.
“This issue primarily affects farmers on marginal and disadvantaged land, located for the most part in the Western half of the country. Smaller farm families, already struggling to make a living are being subjected to this assault from the Department of Agriculture, who seem oblivious to the impossible situation being faced by farmers.
“The frustration and anger felt by is as palpable as it is understandable. The land eligibility question is the last in a long line of attacks on smaller farmers and on rural communities. At this stage farmers are used to the routine, the Minister sticks his head in the sand and ignores the fact that farming families are pin to their collar and struggling to keep afloat.
“I have raised the issue of land eligibility in correspondence with the European Commission earlier this month alongside other issues affecting farming families in marginal or disadvantaged areas. I will continue to raise it at the European level, but the solution must come from the Irish Government.
“I am calling for a working group to take control of this issue. It must be independent of the minister and it should be tasked with bring clarity, fairness and certainty to the issue of eligibility. Farmers need to know where they stand, and be allowed to run their farms without the unnecessary stress of inspections, disputes and appeals.”