18 APRIL 2018
ICSA president Patrick Kent has slammed the Citizens’ Assembly proposal to tax farmers for food production GHG emissions as a completely daft idea. “When you get daft proposals on additional taxes for farmers producing food enthusiastically backed by 89% of respondents and a proposal for a new quango backed by 97% of respondents, it is obvious that this does not arise from balanced debate and careful reflection. Instead, it suggests that the findings have been orchestrated by the way the debate has been framed and the questions put.”
“Did anyone ponder the hypocrisy of favouring carbon taxes for the end users of fuel but not for beef or dairy? The reality is that if the Citizens’ Assembly was asked if they favoured food taxes at retail level they would have been a lot slower to jump on the bandwagon. Moreover, they would then have to reflect on the fact that any such tax would have to be levied not just in Ireland but in every country in the world where we export food.”
“Applying a tax on Irish food production is daft because it ignores the inconvenient truth that people choose to eat and that most of these people are not actually in Ireland but in markets all over Europe and further afield. If we close down Irish beef farmers, we simply relocate the production of beef to other parts of the globe where they don’t give a toss about Citizens’ Assemblies. How stupid would it be to reduce Irish agricultural output so that the likes of Brazil could expand at a far higher environmental cost?”
“At least there was some acknowledgement that farming activities also sequester carbon and that farmers should be incentivised for providing carbon sinks. Contrary to popular belief, this should not be about sitka spruce plantations which are actually very limited in terms of sequestration but about well managed grassland farming combined with the maintenance of biodiverse landscapes.”
“A far more useful strategy would be to incentivise farmers to produce solar energy or invest in anaerobic digestion which produces renewable heat while reducing slurry emissions. Ireland also needs to reject the absurd EU Commission proposals to undermine crop based biofuels on EU farms which produce up to 70% lower GHG emissions than fossil fuels. While electric vehicles might eventually be attractive as an alternative, we have to deal with today’s fleet today.”
“The Government also needs to stand up and be counted on the climate impact of a potential Mercosur trade deal which in essence will result in increased imports of beef and ethanol at significant environmental cost when we could produce all we need of these products in the EU without the global transport emissions involved in imports from South America.