“Stop dancing to the tune of the vegan lobby that has driven a campaign to cut down the national herd,” Dermot Kelleher urged government as he addressed his organisation’s AGM yesterday (Thursday).
During his speech, the current ICSA leader stressed that government and EU policy must not be “hijacked” to undermine livestock farming in favour of insect protein, lab-grown meats and “fake burgers”.
He told the meeting that we “only ever hear that agriculture got off lightly with a 25% emissions reduction target”.
“In my view, the use of percentages is a very deliberate effort to paint farming in a bad light,” Kelleher stated.
He stated that commentary around the target for agriculture being low is “very misleading” when you consider that the burden is “not spread out” over the entire population, as is the case in other sectors.
The ICSA president highlighted that agriculture has been tasked with a 5.75 Mega Tons reduction in emissions, a load which some 100,000 are “expected to carry”.
Meanwhile, transport’s target sits at an agreed 6 Mega Tons, which will be spread over 2.5 million private motorists and 385,000 commercial vehicles.
Furthermore, the ESB has announced €10 billion in investment to deliver its 2030 targets of 7 Mega Tons and hit net zero by 2050, an investment which will be recouped from the captive audience of 3.2 million electricity customers, Kelleher said.
“Their plan is not to cut the supply of electricity, and our plan should not be to cut the supply of beef and lamb,” he told the room.
“100,000 farmers are expected to do far more per capita than motorists or energy utilities or consumers, in terms of emissions reductions.”
“But it is just not realistic to expect farmers to compete in terms of reducing emissions with sectors like electricity, like transport, like buildings and to do this out of their own pocket.”
“And this is even before we get to the issue of what good farmers are doing in sequestering carbon.”
“I am not saying that we are ignoring the climate change realities. Or the fact that the climate targets are enshrined in legislation.”
“I am saying that agriculture needs help to improve its sustainability. Farmers are always trying to improve the efficiency of their business.”
However, he stressed that the Climate Action Plan offers “nothing” in terms of financial support to active, productive farmers wishing to adapt their farming enterprises.