Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte has written to the Minister for Agriculture to highlight the potential benefit of community gardens being facilitated by members of the local farming community during the COVID-19 crisis.
At present any community garden on privately owned farmland would be in breach of Single Farm Payment rules under the current criteria.
Deputy Rabbitte explained that farmers in Galway and community activists have explained to her the desire to have designated acres of farmland used for the benefit of the local community.
“I know of farmers who are willing to provide acres of land for communities to come together while respecting social distancing rules.
“After speaking with Councillor Joe Sheridan, I’ve asked the Minister to change the rules of the Single Farm Payment scheme to allow farmers exempt an acre up to 50 acres, two acres up to 100 acres and three acres every acre after, if producing such produce on their land to help keep the supply chain moving in these uncertain times.
“Produce from this land will support the communities it is grown in while providing a safe environment for people to get outdoors during the outbreak of COVID-19. As public health is paramount every precaution and the HSE advice would be followed in this process.
“Farmers, and particularly beef farmers will experience some very tough months as restaurants and hotels shutdown temporarily as people maintain social distancing guidelines. Putting farmland to good use over the next number of tough months for communities is a worthwhile ambition. I look forward to the Minister’s response,” concluded Deputy Rabbitte.