Tom Canning, President Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA); Charlie McConalogue TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Senator Pippa Hackett, Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity; Breian Carroll, General Secretary ACA

Midlands minister seeks applicants for environmental study programme

A midlands minister is encouraging farmers from the region to apply for a €5m Pilot Farm Environmental Study (FES) this week.

Minister of State and Laois/Offaly Green Party Senator Pippa Hackett is encouraging farmers from Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath to apply.

She said: “I’m asking Midlands farmers to get involved. The Pilot Farm Environmental Study will provide a valuable opportunity for you to learn more about your farmland habitats and biodiversity. The FES will allow you to engage with farm advisers to better understand and appreciate the habitats and biodiversity value of your land, and to tailor your farm management accordingly. Let’s make sure the Midlands are represented.”

The farm habitat survey and baseline data will be used for future targeting of agri-environmental policy, schemes and measures.

Applications must be submitted through the Department’s online application portal by May 27. The Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) will be responsible for the management and roll-out of approximately 6,000 farm habitat surveys.

A trained Farm Advisor will carry out each farm habitat and biodiversity survey with the involvement of the participating farmer. This new level of biodiversity data will provide participating farmers with greater awareness of the biodiversity potential on their lands. In recognition of their time, the participating farmer will receive €200 following the advisor’s successful upload of their FES results.

FES will be open to farmers in any part of the country and Minister Hackett says she hopes to see Midlands farms strongly represented.

“The Farm Environmental Study is an invaluable opportunity to establish a much-needed database of baseline biodiversity information on farmland."

FES in an important and innovative investment of €5m for biodiversity, funded as part of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) transition period.

Minister for Agricuklture Charlie McConalogue said: “This is an exciting measure and I believe it is the launch pad for a whole new and untapped potential for Irish agriculture. Having a baseline knowledge of the biodiversity resources we have on our farms is essential going forward. In order to tackle the challenges of the future, we first must know the potential of the present and the FES is central to this new era we are facing into.

The collaboration between my Department and the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) on work to date is a welcome development. I wish the ACA and its farm advisors a successful and fruitful survey season over the summer months.”