Addressing the 67th Annual General Meeting of the Irish Farmers Association in the Round Room in Dublin today (Thurs), IFA President Tim Cullinan warned against creating a global food emergency trying solve the climate emergency.
“Too many policy decisions are being taken without a proper analysis of the consequences. Not every country can produce its own food. We are fortunate that our island is an ideal location for food production,” he said.
The IFA President said the EU and our Government want us to produce less.
“This is very short sighted. The global population is due to increase from 7.5bn today to an estimated 10bn in 2030. Global demand for meat and dairy products is increasing. Who will supply this food? There is a real risk that we will create a global food emergency trying to solve the climate emergency,” he said.
“Input prices are sky rocketing across Europe and the globe. Whether we like it or not, less fertiliser and other inputs will also mean less food output,” he said.
Tim Cullinan said farmers will not shirk their responsibilities on climate action, but he warned against imposing solutions without consultation.
“Ignoring the economic contribution of farming to the rural economy would be a monumental own goal. Since 1990, our output has increased by 40% and our emissions have remained largely unchanged,” he said.
The IFA President said a balance between environmental, economic and social sustainability will be needed.
“There must be a balance brought to the debate. We cannot have a party with 12 TDs out of 160 ruling the roost,” he said.
“Our message to the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture when they attend the AGM later will be that the emphasis must be on reducing emissions, not on reducing output.”
Tim Cullinan was critical of the CAP Strategic Plan, which was recently submitted to Brussels. He said the Government had short-changed the vulnerable beef, sheep and grain sectors. “More funding will be needed if we are to continue to support rural communities.”
He said this year had started badly, with rocketing input prices. “Farmers are under enormous pressure due to rising costs. Yet, our retailers continue to use food as a loss leader, pushing sectors such as horticulture, poultry, pigs and liquid milk to the brink.”
The IFA President criticised the Government delay in bringing in a Food Regulator, saying clear timelines are needed and a commitment that the Regulator will have teeth to take on the retailers.