17 JUNE 2019
ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch has said that the Government Climate Action plan will be very challenging for the agriculture sector. However, he said that farmers will always respond to the right incentives.
“ICSA believes that it makes much more sense to produce livestock in a sustainable way from Irish grassland rather than relocate it to South America where the potential environmental impact of increased productivity is much more damaging.
Nonetheless, the requirement to achieve a 10-15% reduction in agricultural emissions by 2030 will not be easy. Livestock farming systems have very low profitability and any extra cost cannot be carried by farm families. Some reductions in emissions can coincide with improved economic efficiency however.”
“We also need to look at policies to ensure that farmers who engage in best practice from an environmental point of view are rewarded. For example, future Agri-environment schemes need to be a lot more like REPS and a lot less like GLAS in terms of ensuring that those who participate are paid for their costs and for their labour.”
“We also need to look again at better policies at both national and EU level on renewable energies. For example, we want to see the development of renewable biogas produced in anaerobic digesters on Irish farms.”
“This can be a win-win in delivering benefits to rural communities, reducing imported energy and providing extra income for farmers. It is also a far better solution for industry in the ETS sector to use biogas than to buy carbon credits and this option can also help with marketing lower carbon footprint foods.
Likewise, Ireland should support increased use of sustainable biofuels, produced from crops grown in the EU.”
However, the ICSA slammed EU plans to do a Mercosur deal. “It makes no sense to bring in more beef and other agricultural products from South America while pressing EU farmers to reduce emissions. Cutting down rainforests in South America and then blaming Irish farmers for climate change is illogical.”