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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘For every one animal we reduce, Brazil will increase by four’

Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) president, Vincent Roddy, shares his organisation’s views on agriculture’s 25% emissions reduction target.

Any reduction in agricultural output will also impact heavily on the rural economy. This is something that many rural businesses have not yet woken up to.

I hope that they recognise how this is a battle for them, just as much as it is for our farmers.

In a letter I sent to Minister Eamon Ryan earlier this week, I questioned why land use was separated from agriculture output.

I asked why the science supporting extensively grazed farming systems is being sidelined. We drive a simplistic view that will deliver nothing in terms of reducing global emissions.

Agriculture’s reduction target

Concerning global emissions, proposals are coming from Brazil to increase their national herd by 24 million cattle by 2030.

So, for every one animal we reduce, Brazil will increase by four.

What is more, they will need to cut away more rainforests to accommodate them.

Unfortunately, in this context, what is being proposed is an Irish solution to a global problem and a poorly taught-out solution to that.

On the issue of supporting farmers to reduce output, I believe that while promises will be made, any farmer would be foolish to think these promises will be kept.

Ag schemes

Take, for example, the restrictions imposed on farmers through the designation of the Natura 2000 network (special area of conservation, SAC and special protected areas, SPA).

Here we see land devalued and income opportunities diminished.

Despite promises to address these losses, farmers have reduced payment rates under various agri-environment schemes.

These have fallen from €242/ha in REPS to €150/ha in AEOS to €79/ha in GLAS.

Moreover, in the new ACRES scheme, there is no proposed payment for farmers with designated SAC or SPA lands.

The government and the Oireachtas need to reassess the decision around the proposed 25% reduction.

There is a need for our rural TDs to recognise the impact this will have in all their constituencies.

This will not just be for farmers but for the wider rural economy. We need to work together to get this changed.

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