“Farmers are going through a most horrendous time in this country with crippling fertiliser costs, and the price of green diesel going up €1/L due to carbon tax and VAT increases on fuel as the government stands idly by.”
That is what Independent TD, Michael Collins, stressed in the Dáil yesterday (Wednesday, July 13th), following his meeting with members of farm organisations in west Cork over the weekend.
He explained that farm organisation representatives raised the “mental stress farmers are going through as many are on the verge of losing their farms, livelihoods and homes”.
Emissions reduction target
He accused the government of “throwing another” crisis at farmers in the form of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act.
In it, the government states that the sectoral emissions ceilings range for agriculture will be equivalent to a percentage emissions reduction of between 22-30%.
Commenting on this target, he said:
“Farm groups in west Cork have told me the 22% target would have a significant social impact on rural Ireland. It would be nearly impossible to achieve, never mind dreaming of a 30%.”
“Last night [Tuesday], on Virgin Media’s The Tonight Show, Minister Eamon Ryan, suggested that farmers would be expected to reduce cow numbers.”
“Does the Taoiseach agree with the minister’s suggestion? What will the sectoral emissions ceilings be set at this year? Will it be 22% or less?”
In response, An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, said:
“Notwithstanding the huge input costs, this year will be a good year for dairy farmers, not horrendous, devastating or catastrophic”.
Collins responded by saying: “that is shocking”, to which Martin said, “there are concerns”, to which Collins quickly responded with “there are costs”.
The Taoiseach then told the house that he “understands fully the concerns farmers have in respect of emissions ceilings”.
Deputy Mattie McGrath then intervened and told Martin to “get the wellies on and go and meet them”.
In response, Martin said: “We are providing over €1.5 billion in environmental funding to the farming community. We are willing to work with it.”
“Farmers here are efficient compared to other farming systems across the world.”
Collins then pressed the minister to confirm the figure, to which he said:
“We do not yet have agreement or finalisation on the various sectoral emissions across the economy”.
“It is not only one sector, but a whole range of sectors on which we must get finalisation of the figures,” he concluded.
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