ICSA reaction to climate targets: government must spend more on supporting agriculture sector

‘There is no point in doing more than the other member states if the price is the destruction of every rural community in the country’

 Sligo News File

Dermot Kelleher, president. Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association

ICSA president Dermot Kelleher has said it will be almost impossible to meet the agriculture climate change targets unless the government delivers a substantially higher investment in the sector while also recognising the role played by agriculture in sequestering carbon. “While all countries in the EU are focused on climate change, there is no country that will destroy its own vital national interests. Germany will not sacrifice its car or coal industries and Ireland must protect its vital agri-food sector.

“Therefore, while we all need to meet the climate change challenge, we need to move in step with other EU states. There is no point in doing more than the other member states if the price is the destruction of every rural community in the country.

“Producing food is not optional in a world where population continues to grow rapidly, and this means getting the balance right. Farmers are willing to play their part but there must be realism as well. Farmers have continuously put their money where others put their mouth when it comes to environmental investment. However, the target of 21-30% reduction in emissions cannot be done by farmers out of their own pocket nor should they be expected to carry the burden of saving the planet on their own.

“It is now obvious that the government must put significantly more funding into the CAP programme than has been envisaged. The ICSA proposals for a €15,000 agri-environment scheme and a beef carbon efficiency payment on top of much higher supports for sucklers and sheep are now looking like the minimum that will be required. This is particularly relevant in the context of maintaining a stable herd.” 

The ICSA president added that “if the funding for the ICSA proposals is not forthcoming, then there is no hope whatsoever of achieving these targets.

“ICSA will not accept any attempt to undermine the suckler herd or the beef finishing sector. These are vital national assets and are critical to many rural communities across the country. So ICSA is prepared to negotiate on how farming can play its part, but it must be a balanced discussion that recognises that agriculture is sequestering carbon as well as reducing emissions.”