Tuesday, January 25 2022

Farmers and environmentalists need to move away from “whims” on climate action because the situation can be a “win-win” for both, the agriculture minister said.

Charlie McConalogue said he was frustrated with the story that agriculture was the “big bad” when it came to the environment. He denied any suggestion that productive agriculture and emission reduction were opposing goals, insisting that this was “not the case”.

Mr McConalogue said the sustainability agenda and the need to have a profitable agricultural sector were “symbiotic” and could be “win-win”.

Donegal TD said Irish agriculture has one of the most sustainable production models in the world and a low-emission footprint by international standards, but it also needs to become more sustainable to further reduce emissions.

He said this is what consumers want as it informs their choices about what they buy, and added, “It is an economic imperative as well as a significant contribution to our environmental emissions profile for Irish agriculture continues on the path to sustainability. “

Fianna Fáil Minister was speaking following the anger of the farming community in a letter sent by Green Party MEP Ciarán Cuffe to banks expressing concerns over loans given to young farmers to expand herds of livestock.

Mr Cuffe then admitted he was wrong to single out young farmers, acknowledging the need for the whole country to work to reduce emissions.

Conflict

Mr McConalogue said Mr Cuffe’s intervention was “totally misguided” and “damaging”.

He said it was “symptomatic of what we need to move away from, which is this conflict between the sustainability agenda and productive agriculture.”

He called the Food Vision 2030 strategy a “significant shift” that emphasizes sustainability and added value and moves away from volume growth over the next decade. “

Senior Green Party officials said the herd of cattle would naturally decrease as farmers diversify, while politicians from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael said it would stabilize while being more sustainable.

Mr McConalogue insisted the government has been “very consistent” on the issue, and said “no one, Greens or otherwise, has come to see me in the last year and said that” you know, we have to reduce the amount of food that we produce in this country ‘. “

He said the government wanted to cut to reduce emissions but maintain food production, and that cuts of between 22% and 30% in the climate action plan were “very achievable”.

“We have to keep the herd stable as a starting point” to achieve the goals, he said.

Asked about a recent protest which saw farmers block a Musgrave food distribution center in Co Kildare, Mr McConalogue said it was “poorly thought out”.

The Individual Farmers of Ireland group is believed to be behind the protest against the high cost of fuel and the carbon tax.

Small group

Mr McConalogue said it was led by a small group that did not have the support of the farm organizations of which they were once a part. “I don’t think they represented the farming community at large. “

He encouraged all farmers to engage with him, highlighting his visits to markets in all counties in recent months, where he expressed his views on shaping the new Common Agricultural Policy agenda.

“I am absolutely open to engage in all matters with representative organizations. “


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