28 OCTOBER 2016
-WE NEED TO FOCUS ON RENEWABLES WHICH CAN TRANSFORM OUTLOOK FOR AGRICULTURE & RURAL COMMUNITIES
ICSA president Patrick Kent has welcomed the passing of the anti-fracking bill through its first stage in the Dáil saying that fracking offers no tangible benefits to landowners or rural communities. “Fracking provides no upside for farmers but potentially a lot of downside in terms of our clean, green food image. Instead, we need the Government to strongly favour renewable energy sources which can bring multiple benefits to farmers, the environment and to rural communities while also helping the economy and climate change objectives.”
“In practical terms, this means Government support for sustainable biofuels across Europe, anaerobic digestion in Ireland and sensible policies to give certainty to plans for solar farms. This should be straightforward but it’s not. The EU has performed a U-turn on sustainable biofuels which defies all logic at a time when tillage farmers are at risk of going bust. There is a compelling case to support the use of biofuels from crops grown in Europe which also provide very positive benefits in terms of animal feeds as a by-product.”
“We need to look at what we will do with Moneypoint and how it can be transformed to benefit local farmers rather than run on imported materials. There is also a case to examine the pros and cons of carbon taxes and whether the money raised should be used to support renewables.”
“From a farming point of view, food production is very vulnerable at present particularly since the Brexit vote and it is very questionable whether targets to expand agri-food exports to €19 billion will be realised or even if such targets are sensible at a time when livestock, cereals, dairy are all struggling to find sufficient markets that can pay a viable price. Countries and regions where there are multiple uses for agricultural land are standing out as places where farmers see hope for the future. We cannot allow agriculture in Europe to be a one trick pony dependent on greedy retailers. Nor can we assume that faraway international markets will be the panacea for all ills.”
“A smart approach to agriculture policy which provides farmers with multiple income sources including benefitting from renewables could transform the outlook for farmers and rural communities. This is going to need strong political leadership at national and EU level,” concluded Mr Kent.