IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney has accused environmental NGOs of a continuous campaign of undermining the agri-food sector, Ireland’s largest indigenous sector which provides employment to over 300,000 people directly and indirectly and has delivered a 50% increase in exports over the last decade, to €11bn.
Referring specifically to the research quoted by the environmental movement today, Thomas Cooney said, “The data reported is not a measure of carbon efficiency specifically and should not be misrepresented as such. Furthermore, this data is incomplete as it excludes greenhouse gasses both emitted and stored which are associated with grassland and cropland. Therefore the study itself is only looking at an element of farming. The environmental movement also fails to acknowledge Ireland’s productivity efficiencies, with respect to greenhouse gasses identified in the report”.
He said, “These organisations have loads of data, but very little wisdom. They sit in judgement and criticism of the sustainable development of the agri-food sector, but provide absolutely no alternative coherent vision or plan for the sector.
And today their campaign of noise continues, as they ignore the facts from the European Commission’s science and knowledge service, the Joint Research Centre, which has demonstrated conclusively Ireland’s leading position in sustainable food production”.
On agri-environment policy generally, Thomas Cooney said, “While other sectors such as transport have allowed emissions to spiral out of control, farmers supported by strong policies from Government have stepped up. No other country in the world measures, manages and monitors carbon from farm to fork like we do in Ireland. Over 90% of beef exports are now in an audit & carbon foot printing programme. 100% of milk production is entering into a carbon auditing cycle, with over 100,000 carbon assessments completed on farms to date”.
Almost 90% of the measures in Ireland’s Rural Development Programme have climate reducing elements. One example is the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS), which over the next five years will deliver the following:
- 90,000 hectares of land with a crop cover, delivering almost 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide savings annually;
- Minimum tillage being use across 30,000 hectares of land sequestering over 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year;
- 1.4 million metres of new hedgerows, sequestering almost 5,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.”
Concluding Thomas Cooney said, “Regardless of short-term views being expressed by some, the reality as set out in the international climate agreement in Paris and before that by the EU is that food production must not be compromised when addressing the climate challenges. This is not a reason for inaction, with Ireland’s agri-food sector to the fore in leading the sustainable development of the sector and recognised as such across Europe”.