The Climate Bill must not undermine the continued viability of sustainable Irish farming, a Fine Gael TD John Paul Phelan has said.
The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 is currently going through the Houses of the Oireachtas.
At this week’s Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, a motion about protecting the future for Irish farming families was agreed unanimously following a long discussion with members from both urban and rural constituencies backing the proposal.
“Irish farmers are very climate aware, they want to pass on a sustainable and viable farm to the next generation and they have a proven record on taking measures to ensure increased sustainability in their production,” Deputy Phelan said.
“It is absolutely crucial that commercial farm families are supported by the Climate Bill to ensure the very group that can most affect change and strengthen sustainability are not alienated by this legislation.
“Everybody accepts that farming contributes to our emissions, and farmers accept the need to constantly change practices to more sustainable methods. However, there is often scant consideration given to the mitigation and carbon sequestration measures already being implemented by Irish farmers.
“Carbon budgets will play a real role in helping Ireland achieve our emissions targets but these budgets must take into account the measures that farmers are already taking.
“CAP reform must prioritise viability also, to allow Irish farming continue to be the best it can be. We don’t want to see a situation where viable Irish farms become non-viable because of measures adopted in either the current round of CAP negotiations or the Climate Bill.
“Our systems for beef and dairy are the best and most sustainable in the world and any threat to the viability of Irish farming would not only have severe consequences for this country, but would also set back the war against climate more globally, as we will simply be replaced by less sustainable producers elsewhere in the world.
“The agri-food sector is our most important indigenous industry, providing 173,000 jobs and accounting for 10% of Irish exports. Agriculture is crucial to our rural economy and the income generated is spent locally.
“The most certain way to achieve balanced rural development is to ensure the viability of Irish family farming. We must keep people farming, ensure that farms remain profitable and that farm succession is more viable to protect the family farm model for future generations, and guarantee the protection of our rural environment,” Deputy Phelan said