Mayo group to hold public meetings over controversial 'Acres' proposal

The Mayo-based Rural Ireland Organisation (RIO) has lambasted the government and farming advisory services as information continues to be drip-fed to the farming community on the new environmental scheme, 'Acres'.

Leader of the organisation Gerry Loftus described the new scheme as "an infringement of the property rights of farmers."

RIO absolutely rejects the scheme and are urging all farmers to do likewise.

Mr. Loftus stated the very same ideology is being applied here as was to forestry.

He explained: "So, for example, a farmer plants a forest, draws a premium for either the 20 or 15 year term and harvests the timber later.

"The terms and conditions of the contract then kick in which in many cases hasn't been explained to the farmer.

"The farmer must then fence and replant the land, fertilise it, thin it, maintain the forest at his own expense while the state claims the benefit of the carbon credits.

"The state then uses these carbon credits to protect the big corporate polluters from having to make any serious changes.

"So the farmer is cynically exploited by the state to protect the agri-corporations. The same applies in Acres where a farmer plants hedges, trees, buffer zones along rivers, re-wetting and maintaining peatlands.

"This land will no longer qualify as an eligible hectare for BISS. The owner will never farm it again as the land like forestry has now changed land use, from agriculture to climate and environmental."

Senator Tim Lombard, who is also a dairy farmer, put forward an amendment proposing that all carbon removals be used to help with setting the emissions targets for agriculture.

Added Mr. Loftus: "Minister Ryan accepted the proposal, but no rural TD asked the question how can this be allowed without first putting in place a payment system for farmland that was to be used for this purpose.

"The silence is now deafening from all farming organisations.

"Farmers on peat soils have a lot of waking up to do, if they hand over their land to the state in this scheme for a few pieces of silver from now until 2027 it will be seen as the greatest insult to the men and women of Ireland who fought and died for equality and our freedom.

"Farmers on commonage land need to be aware that joining any scheme on common land without full agreement of all shareholders could now have legal implications."

Mr. Loftus made it clear that carbon emissions absorbed and stored on a farmer’s land are the property of the land owner.

"If an Irish citizen sells property or land there is a legally binding system in place to register title and declare ownership.

"That very similar system has been purposely ignored by government and so called farming organisations.

The Rural Ireland Organisation will host public meetings to discuss the new Environmental Scheme Acres in Killasser Community Centre on Thursday, September 8, at 8.30 p.m. and Hiney’s Crossmolina on Thursday, September 15, at 8.30 p.m.