Addressing the climate session on the 2nd day of the IFA AGM, IFA President Joe Healy said if Government is serious about addressing climate change and empowering farmers to participate, it should not force a farmer out of an enterprise. It should be about creating economically and environmentally sustainable options for farmers to increase their incomes or reduce costs.
The Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton addressed today’s session where he set out the Government’s approach to reducing emissions.
Joe Healy said the carrot is better than the stick and that is why IFA remains to be convinced regarding the proposal to introduce further carbon taxes, given that climate emissions have increased since the existing carbon tax was introduced in 2010.
Joe Healy said IFA will strongly oppose any measures which target or limit Ireland’s sustainable model of food production. Instead he said the Government approach should be to work together and build on farming’s continued response to the climate challenge.
The Teagasc roadmap is a solid piece of scientific research that provides a climate path for the sector. The delivery of the 27 measures in this report requires inter-departmental and inter-state agency co-operation.
The IFA President said the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar should co-ordinate a whole of Government delivery of this climate pathway for the sector. This is required because policy decisions have to be made by all Government Departments.
Regarding energy, Joe Healy said “Farmers stand ready to deliver an alternative to coal in the form of biomass, once the right measures are put in place this time round”.
On renewables, greater support for community and farm-scale renewables, including anaerobic digestion, must be put in place. This requires Government to introduce a guaranteed generation feed-in tariff model, increased grid access, and the development of regional biomass trade and logistics centres.
Regarding the Common Agriculture Policy, Ireland is to the fore in targeting the CAP to addressing the climate challenge. For example, 87% of the measures in the Rural Development Programme are focused on environmental protection and addressing the climate.
The IFA President called on the Minister to support changes to carbon accounting methodology and seek to get a fairer climate picture of agriculture. Ireland has the largest permanent pastures in Europe, which lock in and store carbon, yet we get no credit for this when the climate picture of farming and food production is presented.
In this regard, IFA is calling for the inclusion of carbon sinks from Ireland’s forestry, permanent pastures and hedgerows; whilst the short-lived behaviour of methane must also be re-examined.
Concluding, Joe Healy said the forthcoming proposals from the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action should come forward with measures which safeguard Ireland’s climate efficient model of food production, while providing innovative opportunities for farm families and rural Ireland to climate proof their futures.