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Ferris calls for intervention in land market

12 May, 2005

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Ferris TD, has called on the Minister for Agriculture to consider re-establishing a body on the lines of the old Land Commission that would intervene in the land market to ensure that agricultural land where it becomes available, is both retained for agricultural use, and that small to medium sized farmers wishing to expand are able to buy or lease the land. Deputy Ferris was speaking in the Dáil on the Land Bill that proposes to abolish annuities for all with annuities of €200 or less per annum and to allow those on €200 or more per annum to buy then out at 25% discount.

Deputy Ferris said: "I would put it to the Minister that outside of the provisions of this Bill, that she might take a close look at how her Department might intervene in the land market to ensure that small farmers are able to secure land in their own areas and that priority is given to them when land becomes available in a locality.

"No doubt such a proposal will be objected to on the grounds that it would constitute an interference in the land market. The reality is of course that the land market is already distorted because of the way in which property developers and others amass land banks and wait for values to rise due to scarcity.

"Where agricultural land comes onto the market and where there is a demand from farmers in an area who are unable to compete with people who wish to utilise it for other than farming purposes, there should be a means to intervene to ensure that the land is sold at agricultural value. Perhaps the Minister might even consider re-establishing something like the old Land Commission that would buy land where it came on the market and then lease it to farmers who were unable to come up with the asking price." ENDS

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