The Rural Ireland Organisation (ROI) has reacted with fury to An Taoiseach’s statement that farm schemes could be at risk if climate targets were not met by 2030.
RIO leader, Gerry Loftus, claimed the Taoiseach is “already admitting” Ireland will not meet its 2030 targets on agriculture.
In a statement, Loftus said:
“This is an attempt to spread the payment of fines right across the agricultural sector to include all farmers innocent as well as guilty.”
“If the Taoiseach thinks for one minute that climate-friendly farmers are going to pay fines for the polluting sectors of Irish agriculture, then he has another thing coming.”
“It is unacceptable to our organisation. Our organisation will be communicating with An Taoiseach on this very serious matter.
Loftus claims that the government has “failed miserably” in its Climate Bill to apply “any restrictions” on the dairy sector.
“For example, the sector has increased cow numbers by 45% since milk quotas were lifted.”
“The sector has driven our carbon emissions through the roof. We would question why is this being allowed to happen, while other sectors are under pressure to reduce their animal numbers?”.
Loftus said Ireland has gone from a situation in 2011 when the country met its targets to a position where the sector accounts for 37.1% of emissions.
“There are 7.3 million cattle in the country. 1.6 million of these are dairy cows, and dairy cattle make up approximately 70% of the total.”
“For the record, and in my opinion, I am clearly stating here, and now, there is not a chance in hell we will meet our targets by 2030.”
Furthermore, he said farmers need to understand that their farm’s carbon status will be “critically important” going forward.
“Carbon deficit will determine fines. Besides, carbon credits will determine farm income. Carbon credits will most likely be the most valuable asset on farmland in the future.”
Withdraw statement and letter
The ROI will pen a “strongly worded” letter to An Taoiseach and public representatives, outlining its concerns on this matter.
Furthermore, it has called on Mr Martin to withdraw this statement with immediate effect.
Concluding, the RIO called on An Taoiseach to “apply the polluter pays principle”. “The guilty must pay, not the innocent,” Loftus concluded.