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Speaking at the Smart Farming Farm Talk & BBQ today (28th August) IFA President, Joe Healy outlined the measures that farmers are taking to address climate change. He highlighted an appetite in the sector to do more, provided leadership and support comes from Government and the EU.

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Smart Farming, the resource efficiency programme run by IFA in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency has launched updated water guidance, to support farmers work in improving water quality and reducing the risk of penalties.

Thomas Cooney, Smart Farming Programme Leader said, “Farmers are the custodians of the rural environment and their increasing participation in the voluntary Smart Farming programme demonstrates their willingness and desire to focus on both improving their farm returns while enhancing the rural environment. I believe this updated water guidance will help farmers achieve these two objectives”.

Mary Frances Rochford, EPA Programme Manager in the EPA’s Office of Environmental Sustainability added, “Clean water is essential to our health and wellbeing and conserving water is essential in the context of our changing climate. We must do more to halt deterioration in water quality so that we protect this most precious public resource. Smart Farming plays an important role in addressing water conservation and water quality in the farming sector. Successful implementation of the measures need wide and willing take up by the farming community.”

Catherine Seale-Duggan from the Local Authority Waters Programme welcomed the additional information provided on water protection and conservation. She noted that farming is so important for maintaining and improving water quality and she was delighted to see that farmers were being actively supported to achieve water quality improvements on their farms.

Thomas Cooney, IFA Environment Chairman has rejected Green Party calls for less of Ireland’s sustainable dairy and beef produce, as a solution to the climate challenge.

He said, “The Green Party’s continuous attack on our national herd lacks climate credibility. Farmers in Ireland have a proud climate record, with the European Union’s Joint Research Centre confirming that our dairy farmers are number one and our beef farmers are in the top five when it comes to climate friendly food production. This is important, as the UN IPCC’s report published today (Thursday) recognises that “there is a need to produce about 50% more food by 2050 in order to feed the increasing world population.” The report also highlights that this will lead to “significant increases in GHG emissions” driven by a 6-21% increase in the area of land cleared for cropland.

Cheap shots at Ireland’s dairy and beef farmers demonstrates ignorance of the fact, that demand for protein rich foods produced in Ireland will increase. Therefore, climate advocates have two choices: either back Ireland’s grass-based, carbon friendly model of food production, or support the on-going clear-felling of the Amazonian and other forested regions to create new croplands to meet the increase demand for food.”

Thomas Cooney has expressed his frustration at the Green Party’s failure to back IFA’s calls for a fairer farmers’ share of the retail price of their produce.  “The Green Party has not supported IFA’s call for a ban on below cost selling of farm produce. It has also failed to support the introduction of a retail ombudsman who would bring transparency to the profiteering and sharp practices in the food supply chain, which leave farmers getting 20% of the retail price of food they produce.

It’s time our politicians started to respect the premium product Irish farmers produce and introduce legislation, which ends profiteering of others in the food chain.”

 

Ends.

 

Contact:

Niall Madigan                (01) 450 1931/ 086 822 8635

Ethel Horan                          (01) 426 0344/ 087 910 4111

 

IFA President Joe Healy has described proposals in the recently published Climate Advisory Council (CAC) report to significantly reduce the national suckler herd, as being based on the flawed logic of looking at emissions from food production on a single country basis.

The IFA President said, “The proposed cut in the herd takes no account of the economic or social consequences, particularly for areas where beef production is the backbone of the local economy, with cattle farmers spending over €1.5 billion each year on agri-inputs.

Our farmers are amongst the most carbon efficient food producers in the world, because of our grass-based model of food production. Reducing the Irish suckler herd will result in an increase in global emissions, as beef would be produced in countries with less sustainable systems.  As I recently pointed out in our ongoing campaign of opposition to the proposed Mercosur trade deal, the Brazilians are felling the equivalent of a football pitch every minute, to meet international beef demand.

The CAC recommendation will continue to fuel this climate destruction. With the world population growing it is reckless to consider reducing food production in countries who have ideal climatic conditions for producing food naturally.”

The Government’s Climate Plan clearly identifies implementing the Teagasc Climate Roadmap as the best way to reduce emissions from agriculture.

Thomas Cooney, IFA Environment Chairman has strongly criticised the CAC’s lack of vision and policy direction, to drive the delivery of the 18.5 Mt of carbon savings identified in Teagasc’s Climate Roadmap, instead falling back on the lazy option of targeting food production.

“Farmers in Ireland continue to lead climate action. No other country in the world measures, monitors and manages carbon from farm to fork at a national level. Today over 212,000 carbon assessments have been completed across the 139,000 farms in Ireland, increased numbers of farmers are using low emissions slurry spreading equipment, GLAS is fully subscribed and all farmers who receive a basic payment farm to Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions criteria.

What’s it all for, if the solution now proposed by the CAC is to reduce our climate efficient food production? This is a dismal reflection on the scientific and research work of our state agencies. That these agencies are now saying that they have failed to provide the research and technical solutions to reduce emissions, so therefore production must reduce is, frankly, shocking.

Instead the agencies should back IFA’s call for them to collaborate with the relevant Government Departments’ and IFA to deliver the fullest potential of the emissions reductions and improvements to farm level profitability that can be delivered through the delivery of the Teagasc climate roadmap.”

 

IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney has called on Government to ensure that the soon to be published recommendations from the nitrates derogation review support the sustainable development of the sector.

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