Press Release 10 May 2022
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue T.D., and Minister of State with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, have announced that the Pilot Farm Environmental Study (FES) is now open for applications.
The €5m Pilot Farm Environmental Study will provide a valuable opportunity for farmers to learn more about farmland habitats and to have the habitats and biodiversity held on their land recorded, mapped and assessed. Farmers will have the opportunity to gain an understanding of the value that nature provides on their farm. The farm habitat surveys will work to establish a framework to generate a database of baseline habitat and biodiversity data and a baseline for future targeting of agri-environmental policy, schemes and measures.
Applications must be submitted through the Department’s online application portal www.agfood.ie. The Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) has been awarded the contract for the training of farm advisors on FES surveying and mapping. They 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.
FES will be open to farmers in any part of the country and the full list of eligibility criteria can be found in the FES Terms and Conditions. FES in an important and innovative investment of €5m for biodiversity, funded as part of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) transition period.
Opening the Measure, Minister McConalogue said, “I am delighted to be opening this really important €5m measure which will be a significant step to increasing our knowledge and understanding of biodiversity on farms along with a wealth of scientific data. 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”
Minister of State, Pippa Hackett has also welcomed the opening of FES. Minister Hackett commented that “The opening of the Farm Environmental Study is an invaluable opportunity to establish a much-needed database of baseline biodiversity information on farmland. The FES will allow farmers to engage with farm advisers to better understand and appreciate the habitats and biodiversity value of their own land, and to tailor their farm management accordingly. I would strongly encourage any farmer interested in farming with nature in mind to get involved.”
Farmers wishing to apply for the Farm Environmental Study should apply through www.agfood.ie by the closing date of 27th May 2022.
Key objectives of FES
Incentive for farmer
The Pilot FES measure will provide the farmer with an inventory of habitats, biodiversity and other environmental information about his/her own farm. This information will be presented to the farmer as part of the knowledge transfer element to educate and empower the farmer to farm in a way that is sensitive to nature on their individual farm. In recognition for their time, the participating farmer will receive €200 following the advisor’s successful upload of their FES results.
Upskilling of farm advisors
Up-skilling of farm advisors will be a key element in the delivery of FES. The environmental training programme for advisors will ensure that capacity is built for the greater level of environmental ambition required in other future agri-environmental schemes. Advisors will receive habitat and biodiversity training as well as updated IT and mapping skills which will be transferrable to other schemes.
The Pilot FES will begin the process of building a baseline farm level habitat and biodiversity database and will inform the future national roll out of FES. The environmental parameters assessed under FES will assist with targeting management practices/measures and advice to support national and EU policy such as the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), Climate Action Plan, Farm-to-Fork, Water Framework & Nitrates Directives, as well as the Biodiversity Strategy.
How will the programme operate?
The Pilot FES will be managed and delivered by the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The Department will administer the farmer application process and Ranking and Selection requirements for the pilot programme through the online AgFood.ie resource. The ACA will coordinate and manage the advisor training and oversee the field survey and data collation processes.
Farm Surveys will begin in late Quarter 2 of 2022. Following survey completions and data collation, it is expected the results and outputs of the pilot survey will be presented to the Department in Quarter 4 of 2022.