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Responding to the report published by The Lancet today, IFA President Joe Healy said the report fails to take any account of how carbon efficiently food is produced in different regions of the world, or the very high standards that Irish farmers adhere to.

Joe Healy said, “Irish farmers are engaged in climate action. We have very efficient food production systems in Ireland from a climate perspective. We are the most carbon efficient dairy producer in Europe and amongst the top five in beef. It’s important that this sustainable production is not restricted, as it would lead to increased international climate emissions. This would happen because regions like the Brazilian Amazon in South America would be deforested to meet this growing demand”.

The Teagasc climate roadmap, published in June last year, represents a clear strategy for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the sector. However, it requires whole of Government support. The IFA has written to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and sought his climate leadership in co-ordinating the key Government Departments and state agencies to fully deliver this climate roadmap.”

Joe Healy said proteins from beef and dairy are an important part of a balanced diet. The threat to public health from obesity is well documented. Dietary balance, variety and moderation combined with an active lifestyle remain the single-most important message we all need to act upon, and this is what public health authorities must focus on.

He said it was a ludicrous distraction to suggest that people should have little or no meat and dairy as part of their diet.

IFA’s Health and Safety Executive, William Shortall has urged farmers to take safety precautions when undertaking the spreading of slurry. As of yesterday (13 January) farmers in certain areas of the country are able to commence spreading. The main hazards associated with slurry are toxic slurry gas, slurry tank and lagoon openings and the slurry spreader PTO shaft.

“Spreading slurry is potentially one of the most hazardous activities that a farmer undertakes. The two main risks that present are drowning and gas poisoning. We are urging farmers not to take unnecessary risks and follow simple steps to ensure their own safety and that of their animals,” said William Shortall.

Steps farmers should take include;

• Make sure all children and pets are kept secure and away from the farmyard
• Only agitate on a windy day
• Open all shed doors and shutters to allow airflow through the shed being agitated
• After starting agitating leave the area for 30 min to allow slurry gases to dissipate
• Recover agitating points when not in use

Further information is also available on the Health & Safety Authority website.

Commenting on the figures released today by the Health & Safety Authority, IFA’s Health & Safety Executive William Shortall said 2019 would see the rollout of IFA’s peer-to-peer farm safety learning initiative.

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The medium-term outlook for agriculture is very uncertain, not least as a result of policy and trade issues stemming from Brexit. 2019 is a critical year, given the decisions that will be made on CAP post-2020.  The outcome of the CAP process will decide the Budget for Ireland and the level of support for Irish farmers for the next seven years. Direct payments are critical for farmers’ incomes and we expect the Government to fight for an increase in the CAP Budget ” –  IFA President Joe Healy

The IFA is holding a number of open farmer meetings around the country on

  • The state of play with the CAP negotiations
  • The IFA’s campaign to protect farmers’ direct payments
  • The key dates in 2019 that members need to be aware of, and
  • What the recent ANC review means for farmers and how they can appeal the outcome if they were excluded.

IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney has called on all local authorities to develop plans to address the annual increase in littering of the countryside that takes place post-Christmas, as people recklessly dump cans, bottles, used wrapping paper and even the left overs of Christmas dinners.

Thomas Cooney said, “Recent reports indicate that packaging waste generated from online shopping will increase by 33% this year to 10,000 tonnes. The fact is that this will lead to increased dumping by passing motorists who have no regard for our rural countryside. And it’s time to get tough with these people.”

IFA is calling for more severe sanctions on serial dumpers and changes to the legislation so that farmers are no longer held legally responsible for reckless dumping by others.

Thomas Cooney said, “The on the spot fines for littering introduced this year have not worked. We need increased enforcement action by local authorities, as well as tougher sentences and penalties for large scale serial dumpers.

In a recent meeting with Environment Minister for State Seán Canney T.D., IFA also called for changes to existing litter legislation, by removing the current threat of fines and prosecution of famers on whose land others irresponsibly dump their litter.


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