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IFA President Tim Cullinan said the upcoming Climate Action (Amendment) Bill must facilitate farmers to be part of the climate solution.

 

In the Programme for Government, the Government committed to introducing a new Climate Action (Amendment) Bill, including a new Climate Action Council.

 

“I am convinced that changes in Agriculture Ministers during the first 100 days may result in agriculture not getting a fair input into the new Bill. Minister McConalogue will need to ensure that the importance of farming is reflected in the Bill,” he said.

“Farmers will be looking to this Government to support farming and ensure that any targets outlined in the Bill are practical, achievable and take account of the work the sector is already doing in this area,” said the IFA President.

 

The first draft of the legislation will be published in the coming weeks.

 

“The devil will be in the detail in terms of how emissions targets are to be achieved and calculated. We will engage fully in the discussions that will take place,” he said.

 

“The Climate Action Bill will have to take account of the benefits farmers and agriculture provide in carbon sequestration.  Existing carbon sinks, including grassland, hedgerows, crops, peatlands and forestry must be included, in line with the most up to date science.”

 

Tim Cullinan said there must also be recognition for the cyclical nature of methane in GHG emissions accounting methodology.

 

“We have made this case strongly to the Minister for Agriculture, and we expect him to be a strong advocate for the sector at the Cabinet table,” he said.

 

Smart Farming, the voluntary resource efficiency programme, run by the Irish Farmers’ Association in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency, will host an online farm talk on Friday August 28th at www.smartfarming.ie.

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Following today’s (19th June) publication of the ASSAP Interim Report, IFA’s National Environment Chairman Paul O’Brien said that the collaborative efforts to engage with farmers and the wider community to improve the quality of water bodies is encouraging.

He said, “Farmers want to do the right thing, and the fact that farmer engagement with the programme has reached 96% is evidence of this”.

The report shows a net improvement of 16.7% in water quality in water bodies that were prioritised areas for action.

“It demonstrates that farmers are committed to building on environmental actions, and this needs to be fairly reflected in any future eco-schemes.”

The Environment Chairman said, “A key element of the ASSAP programme is that once an issue is identified, the team provides practical solutions to remedy the problem”.

He said, “I am optimistic about the future of the programme. The collaborative support and input from multiple actors in the sector are key and gives reassurance to farmers”.

IFA National Rural Development Chairman, Michael Biggins has called for the early approval of all TAMS applicants for the latest application period (Tranche 17) which closed on June 5th. Over 5,000 applications were submitted for this tranche.

It is now up to the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed to issue approval to all of these applicants. Farmers who do not have full planning permission must have it secured by July 10th, when the selective process will proceed.

The IFA Rural Development Chairman pointed out that the next application period (Tranche 18) opened on June 6th and will close on 7th August. This is a shorter timeframe than usual (tranches normally open for 3 months).

The Department told IFA that, as yet, no decision has been taken on the number of tranches that will be available between August and December 31st 2020, when the current phase of the scheme comes to an end.

At the meeting, IFA put forward a case for the continuation of the scheme under EU CAP transitional arrangements for a further year or two, until the details of the next Rural Development Programme are available.

€82.5m is available for the scheme this year with over €30m already paid out.

It was stressed by IFA that there must be no delay in grant payments. The extra cost of bridging loans is a serious financial burden at a time when farm incomes are under pressure.

IFA received assurances that pre-payment inspections which involve 5% of applications will not delay payments.

 

IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe has welcomed today’s funding announcement by the Department of Agriculture for a number of agri-food tourism projects.

It follows IFA’s call for people holidaying at home this summer (while adhering to the Government’s Covid-19 roadmap) to consider a stay on one of the many farm guesthouses around the country.

Ireland’s tourism sector will begin to re-open next month and many people are beginning to consider staycations around the country.

Brian Rushe said, “Grants such as these contribute to the development of a vibrant agri-tourism sector. Rural Ireland has been hard hit as a result of Covid-19, so these monies are badly needed. I urge Minister Creed to ensure they are paid out without any delay.”


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