According to the Rural Independent Group, farmers are already collapsing, and some reached “a breakpoint” some time ago.
The group has outlined that farmers have never been “under so much pressure”, as it pointed to record energy, feed, and fertiliser bills and a lack of credit from banks.
For these reasons, they believe that proceeding with emission reduction targets, within the currently evolving situation, would be “cold, reckless, and extreme”.
The group is calling on the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture to acknowledge these “real and substantial threats”.
It has demanded that they abandon the planned emissions cuts for the agricultural sector.
The TDs said that “all” government TDs “coldly voted down” its amendment, which allowed for agriculture’s exclusion from emission cuts and herd culls.
The group described the government’s emissions reduction targets as “outdated and frenzied”. It said that they are:
- “Robbing” farming families of income generation;
- Depriving rural communities of jobs;
- Causing billions of euros in lost revenue.
Leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Mattie Mc Grath, said:
“Irrespective of the final reduction figures and government spin, Irish agriculture is crippled by a much higher and disproportional cost than farming in other countries.”
“This is despite many TDs making promises before the last election that they would exclude agriculture from any emission reduction targets.”
“Therefore, little comfort is offered to farmers who hear such TDs or Senators using the old nod and wink politics while pretending to advocate for them.”
The group has warned that a lower limit cut of 22% would be “extremely damaging” to Irish agriculture.
However, any reduction closer to 30% translates into “the end of Irish farming as we know it”.
“Either way, whether 22-30%, it is now inevitable; the worst fears from research about herd reductions or cattle culls will happen.“
“This means an end to growing herd sizes and reductions in food production. This is at a time when food prices are skyrocketing, and supplies are curtailed.”
The group described the government’s approach to climate action as “bluntly callous”.
It said that it risks offshoring our food production to countries that are without emissions targets.
This approach, it added, also fails to recognise that Irish farmers are “the world’s” most carbon-efficient food producers. McGrath stated that this is due to its grass-based food production model.
McGrath concluded: “Given Brexit’s impact, geopolitical factors, the Ukraine war, inflationary pressures, and the predicted looming recession, we are calling on the government not to proceed with any emission cuts for the Irish agri-food sector.”
“Instead, we need a complete review and simultaneous engagement with the sector and the public on how best to proceed. Reality must be brought to bear on these grave issues.”
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