Clare Fianna Fáil Senator Timmy Dooley has questioned if the new ACRES program is disincentivising positive biodiversity practices on farms.
Speaking at the Committee on Environment and Climate Action, Senator Dooley said that under the new ACRES scheme farmers aren’t being compensated for their loss in income as a result of positive biodiversity practices.
Senator Dooley raised the Hen Harrier scheme which he described as a good scheme that farmers were on board with:
“The Hen Harrier scheme improved the entire biodiversity of the land because farmers adopted the restrictions. The compensation for their loss in income for adopting these practices is now removed in the ACRES scheme, and rightly farmers feel cheated having signed up to the program and accepted restrictions on the use of their land. They feel the Government has pulled the rug from under them and this approach is undermining farmers’ confidence in the Government’s efforts at improving biodiversity and reducing emissions”.
Senator Dooley believes another example where the policy hasn’t followed the effort made by the farmers is the Burren designated program.
Senator Dooley said, “Farmers changed their practice, which benefited in a huge way, the biodiversity, because their approach to farming got rid of all the hazel, allowing the fauna and flora to recover. And now the new ACRES scheme disincentives farmers to continue that effort. That’s wrong.
“I’ve made it very clear to the Minister and to the Department. It undermines farmers’ confidence. Efforts made by people like Michael Daverin, Brendan Dunford and Gerald Kearns among others to get people on board. Now, you’re disincentivising farmers with the changes to the ACRES as there is no compensation for their loss of income for implementing these practices”.