ICSA president Dermot Kelleher has described media reports that the national herd could be cut by 10% as “kite flying and speculative, based on nothing more than the fact that government has set targets without knowing how to reach them and is now in panic mode to gloss over this.”
“There has been no agreement to cut cow numbers by a definitive number and in fact, the government proposals do not even suggest a figure for how many cows. The road to achieving the sectoral targets for agriculture are based on documents discussed at the Food Vision group dairy and beef meetings. However, in the absence of any proposals from government to provide financial support to assist active farming, there was no agreement on any of this.
ICSA met the Minister last week and we have put forward proposals to support more sustainable, active farming which would involve new funding for active farmers of €250 million per annum for the next seven years. Unless the government is willing to engage on this, there is no point in meaningless speculation in the media.
This is not just a problem for the agriculture sector. The reality is that the target for one million electric vehicles by 2030 has been quietly abandoned and there is little sign of additional rail or metro projects being delivered by 2030. Equally, the buildings sector has zero chance of meeting the target to deep retrofit 500,000 houses by 2030. If the government was serious about renewable energy there would already be a strategy with a funding roadmap for renewable gas produced by anaerobic digesters from grass and slurry but alas, there is nothing.
The reality is that farmers are already working to adopt new technologies and increase efficiencies which will help decarbonise and farming must be properly recognised and remunerated for storing carbon, which is something that other sectors cannot deliver. However, the government must work with the sector to help us. Allowing harmful speculation about destroying the livelihoods of thousands of farmers is not the way to go and will do nothing to move towards carbon reduction in the sector.”