UK investment firm Gresham House will outbid young farmers for Irish land through its partnership with Coillte, Macra has warned.

Macra agricultural affairs committee chair Liam Hanrahan said that the controversial deal is not the correct approach for the expansion of forestry in Ireland and insisted it will have a negative impact on generational renewal and access to land for young farmers.

He said this lack of generational renewal is the biggest threat to Irish agriculture.

“The consequences of an English investment fund putting further pressures on an already highly inflated land market will have major consequences for land mobility and access to land for young farmers.

“This will put further pressure on land prices and the ability of young farmers to access the finances required,” said Hanrahan.

Lack of support

The Macra representative highlighted that on Ireland’s [CAP] strategic plan, the European Commission has already observed a lack of direct support in addressing access to land for young farmers to achieve generational renewal.

Macra agricultural affairs committee chair Liam Hanrahan.

“This development would make one question whether it's in line with the strategic objectives of CAP from an EU perspective, along with the allocation of forestry premiums in these instances, with further questions from a carbon perspective.

“The greatest restrictors for young farmers continue to be access to land and access to finance. This fund will exacerbate the situation for young farmers, and is a backwards step for land mobility in Ireland.

“We are making a bad situation worse and we need to rethink the approach,” Hanrahan concluded.

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