Axis 2 measures.
Axis 2 measures are designed to protect and enhance natural resources and landscapes in rural areas. They seek to contribute towards biodiversity, preservation of high nature value farming, forestry systems and traditional agricultural landscapes, protection of water and climate change amelioration.
The measure seeks
- to ensure continued agricultural land use,
- contributes to the maintenance of a viable rural society,
- promotion of environmentally friendly farming practices,
- preserving the farmed landscape.
Less Favoured Areas
The less favoured area compensatory allowance scheme assists farmers in less favoured areas who face significant handicaps arising from factors such as remoteness, difficult topography and poor soil conditions. Supports under the scheme provide for compensation for the additional costs incurred by farmers and for income forgone.
Applicant must qualify on an annual basis for compensation. Farmers must adhere to environmental protection requirements, undertake to farm for five years after the first payment date, adhere to the statutory management requirements, and farm at least three hectares or more of LFA land. A minimum stocking density is required. A retention period applies
Aid is paid at differentiated levels based on the severity of the handicap. Land in LFA area is divided into three categories.
- more severely handicapped lowland
- less severely handicapped lowland
- mountain type.
The payment level is based on the eligible storage area declared in the integrated administration and control system.
The payment rates are approximately €90 per hectare, slightly higher in mountain areas and tapering for over certain thresholds.
Applicants must be registered herd holders having a herd number from the Department of Agriculture.
There are provisions in respect of land under energy crops subject to conditions including
- maximum area of land, 10 hectares under crops
- minimum requirement 3 hectares,
- forage area remains
The applicant is required to meet a minimum stocking density of 0.5 livestock per forage acre declared. Additional adjusted rates apply in the case of applications covering land under energy crops. The additional supplement is based on the above degrees of handicap. The scheme applies to all less favoured areas in Ireland as listed in the original Council Directive 1975 as subsequently amended.
The Natura 2000 sites were designated by Council Directives from the late 1970s to 2000. They provided for a network of protected areas to the EU. In Ireland, the sites are selected by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The Directives are translated into Irish law by the Natural Habitats Regulation.
The measures seek to contribute towards environmental management of the Natura 2000 sites and river catchment areas and the implementation of the Birds Directive, the Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive.
The measures are aimed at farmers who actively farm designated Natura 2000 sites. The purpose is to compensate owners with usable agricultural land in areas where mandatory restrictions apply relating to the designation.
There are two types of land affected in Ireland.
- privately owned land with SAC or SPA designation
- commonage with the same designation
The minimum stockage of 0.15 livestock per hectare is required as a condition of eligibility.
Cross-compliance obligations apply. Participants must comply with obligations for the site. They must engage the services of an environmentalist to provide advice on appropriate farming practices compatible with the conservation of the site and ensure compliance with the restrictions. Farming conditions for certain types of habitats have been developed and must be complied with.
For habitat types outside of these designations for which specific farming conditions have not been developed, the farmer must liaise with the National Parks and Wildlife Service for instructions and any conditions appropriate to the site. They must be incorporated into the farm plan.
The amount of the payment is €56 per hectare for up to 40 hectares, tapering above this amount. Cross-compliance is required.
There are provisions in respect of lands farmed in common with Natura designation. A similar obligation to those above applies. Common holders are subject to conditions. They must undertake works in creating restrictions on the common in proportion to their shares. They must abide by certain conditions. They must comply with good agricultural and environmental conditions. Participants must have an integrated farm plan complying with the agri-environmental conditions.
The organic farming sub-measure promotes the efficient use of nutrients in an environmentally friendly manner. It involves a systematic assessment of all nutrient sources and limits the application of fertilizers, chemical, organic or other nutrient sources.
Farms with or without a Nitrates Directive derogation are treated differently. In the case of a non-derogation farm, a systematic evaluation of the entire nutrient source available is undertaken with a limit set on the amount of fertilizers and nutrient sources. In the case of a derogation, a nutrient management plan is acceptable.
There is an agri-environmental organic farming measure which stands outside the REPS scheme. The purpose of the scheme is to promote conversion to organic production methods. Farmers may have to convert all or part for holding or participate in the measure on a standalone basis outside of the general REPS program.