Reduced emissions targets from livestock present a challenge to farmers
Responding to the announcement of a 25% emissions reduction for agriculture, Pat McCormack, the President of the ICMSA, the state’s specialist dairy farmer organisation, said that the Government’s decision would have wholly negative and predictable economic, social and demographic consequences for the massive areas of the state that depended on farming and food production and represented a ‘sell-out’ of our family farm model. Mr McCormack said that farmers and the communities they formed and which depended upon them, were not interested in hearing any more platitudes from politicians and groups who professed to appreciate the dilemma faced by farming communities but who cheerfully signed-off on policy that ‘at a stroke’ made whole classes of farms unviable.
It was now clear that faced with the choice of doing anything that impinged upon more favoured sectors – like aviation - or undermining our irreplaceable family farm system, those same politicians – with a few notable exceptions – were happy to sacrifice the one sector in which Ireland enjoyed a unique natural benefit, global reputation, and which had been the one and only economic sector left working after the crash of a decade ago.
Mr McCormack said that the decision to go past 22% to 25% represented much more than ‘just’ an additional three percent. The original target was going to be very difficult but at least warranted an effort. Pushing that to 25% reduction over an eight-year timeframe now moved policy from ‘difficult’ to ‘impossible’ and actually meant that the policy was now literally incredible in that it was not credible or possible to have confidence in.
“ICMSA has repeatedly stressed that if we are to move forwards together towards the new low-emissions farming and primary food production now set as policy, then the ambitions and targets must be possible and achievable. If the historic process and transition is to win the confidence that will be necessary for it to succeed, then it simply must be realistic. If it is not realistic – and 25% is not realistic – then the whole process loses all momentum, trust and confidence”, said Mr McCormack.
The ICMSA President concluded by noting that while today’s decision will be presented as a win for the extreme environmental element in Government, it would transpire to be a PR stunt and pointless over-reach that would inflict incalculable harm to long-term ambitions for lower emissions and sustainability.
“The Government has badly let down family farms and their communities and we won’t be fobbed off by vague promises of future income streams. Our livestock industry - both dairy and beef - is the lifeblood of rural Ireland and Minister McConalogue and the three party leaders of the coalition have struck it at its very heart today” concluded Mr McCormack.
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