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GP propose a phasing out of the live export of unweaned calves

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Irish agricultural policy should support farmers to diversify away from an “over-reliance” on dairy and beef production for commodity export markets – that’s the view of the Green Party.

In their manifesto, the political party said that they want to develop a thriving horticultural sector to produce grains, vegetables, fruit and nuts, and other plant-based products aimed primarily at the Irish market. “A shift away from an industry-led model to one which puts Irish farmers at the centre, is a must.”

Their proposals include:

  • “Unequivocal” support of reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy to reward farmers for sequestering carbon, restoring biodiversity and producing clean energy. “We believe that these reforms should seek to help small farmers rather than large scale agricultural enterprises. They should also encompass a transfer of funding from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 to support results-based outcomes.”
  • Use of CAP funding and state agencies to develop more profitable routes to market;
  • An assessment of the remit and funding of state agencies such as Teagasc and Bord Bia;
  • An “extensification of the animal agricultural model”, one which places emphasis on biodiversity, habitat creation, carbon sequestration and soil health, and animal welfare. An increase the land being farmed organically to 20% by 2030;
  • An expansion of the Organic Farming Scheme to support producers of cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes and other plant-based outputs;
  • A “substantial” increase in funding for sustainable horticulture to support the development of opportunities in this sector;
  • Support for the development of agroforestry/ silvopasture on Irish farmlands;
  • Redirection of grant funding towards all farm-to-fork supply chain activities and measures that help farmers transition to sustainable farming practices;
  • The launch of a major marketing initiative to encourage consumers to buy locally-grown, pesticide-free food;
  • Support for the establishment of local food processing facilities for local food producers;
  • The establishment of an ‘Energy Efficient Farming’ scheme to include a farm efficiency rating overseen by the SEAI, educational support and grant subsidies for onsite renewable energy options and the promotion of energy-efficient technology for farm use.;
  • Setting up a government task force on farming and biodiversity with representation from all relevant stakeholders from the agricultural and ENGO community;
  • Increasing the proportion of Irish land that is farmed according to the principles of High-Nature Value farming;
  • The establishment of a national action plan on biodiversity in agriculture to promote strategies for companion planting and poly-cultural growing methods in previously mono-cultural crops;
  • The publication of a National Soil Strategy that prioritises soil protection and appropriate management practices;
  • The prioritisation of research funding to examine carbon sequestration mechanisms in farming and to examine the impacts of pesticides, slurry and fertilisers on soil health;
  • Assisting young farmers in getting access to land and introducing legislative, legal and financial mechanisms to facilitate lease agreements between farmers;
  • Ensuring that agricultural education courses include adequate training in the areas of biodiversity and climate and environmental protection;
  • Keeping Ireland GMO-free at this time.

Animal welfare

  • Adopt higher welfare standards for all farmed animals and press for measures under the CAP which will support those implementing higher welfare standards;
  • Support a significant increase in funding for animal welfare organisations;
  • Improve pig welfare, and uphold the EU Pigs’ Directive, which prohibits mutilations such as tail docking, and we will support the development of a high-welfare outdoor-reared pig sector;
  • Improve the welfare of poultry by supporting a ban on all types of cages for laying hens;
  • Ban the live export of livestock for slaughter to non-EU countries and phase-out the live export of unweaned calves by exploring other market opportunities;
  • Support a Bord Bia funded bonus for ‘zeromovement’ beef-bred cattle which are born, raised and slaughtered from the farm of origin;
  • Support the introduction of ‘honest labelling’ for animal products, which would include details such as methods of rearing and production;
  • End badger culling by rolling out badger vaccination; Phasing out of public funding to the greyhound racing industry
  • Stop the hunting of wild animals with hounds and end coursing with live hares
  • See through the government’s commitment to phasing out fur farming of all species
  • Promote responsible pet ownership through the school curriculum;
  • Improve the welfare of animals in zoos and wildlife parks by upholding the EU Zoos Directive;
  • Ban all non-medical animal experimentation and support the three R’s – reduction, refinement and replacement;
  • Support the introduction of regulations on the species and type of animal that can be bred, kept, sold or supplied;
  • Ensure that tougher sentences are applied to those found guilty of animal cruelty;
  • Support stronger regulation on dog breeding and stronger enforcement of relevant legislation.

Food policies include:

  • The formation of publicly-owned community markets in all towns nationwide, which, they state, should showcase local produce and provide revenue for local farmers and food producers;
  • Tax incentives for farmers to rent land to communities wishing to obtain land for allotments and growing;
  • Introduction of a food module to the primary school curriculum dealing with all aspects of food, from its growth and production, to its nutritional content and how to cook it.
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Forestry

  • Implement a forestry policy that will move away from “large-scale monoculture” of fast-growing species such as Sitka spruce on ‘marginal land’ towards mixed, diverse forestry, with a wider range of services, benefits and forest products;
  • Set a minimum target of 20,000 ha of afforestation per year over the next decade;
  • Develop a new afforestation programme which will start with the payment of a special planting grant to 120,000 farmers around the country for the planting of one hectare of woodland on their farm which will act as a carbon store, help promote wildlife corridors and provide a future fuel source for the household;
  • Retain the commercial forests of Coillte in public ownership;
  • Establish a new mandate for Coillte which will deliver multiple benefits including environmental and community objectives, as well as the production of high-quality timber;
  • Promote a move to Close to Nature-Continuous Cover forestry systems to ultimately create permanent biodiverse forests containing trees of all ages;
  • Engage local authorities and local communities in a radical expansion of urban tree planting and neighbourhood and community forests;
  • Plant ‘protection forests’ along rivers and lakes to protect water quality and assist in managing flood risks;
  • Facilitate the regeneration of natural woodlands through the promotion of more rigorous management plans for invasive species and overgrazing;
  • Increase investment in higher and further education and training for foresters;
  • Insist on full compliance with the Forest Consent System, the Bird and Habitats Directive and the catchment management approach of the Water Framework Directive;
  • Propose that importation into Ireland of illegally logged timber must be subject to immediate regulation and that Ireland must implement the Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade FLEGT.

Stay tuned for more General Election 2020-related coverage… 

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