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HomeFarming News‘We are fighting for the continued existence of small farms’
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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‘We are fighting for the continued existence of small farms’

Leader of the Rural Ireland Organisation (ROI), Mayo native, Gerry Loftus, has warned Irish farmers of a land grab.

He has told farmers with High Nature Value Farmland that current proposals for emissions reductions in the agricultural sector will be “a disaster” for rural Ireland.

In a statement to That’s Farming:

“The type of land in question here is all-natural land. This is land that has never seen slurry or fertiliser as well as all land that was formerly bog but has been  ploughed, cultivated and is now growing grass.”

“This is classified as carbon-rich soil and is the most valuable soil in the world for carbon storage.”

Loftus said the plan is to use this land to offset the agricultural emissions from the more polluting sectors.

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“The government are rowing in behind the farming organisations instead of applying the ‘polluter pays’ principle.”

“Small suckler and sheep farmers on this type of land are not the polluters.”

“Most urban dwellers see a farmer as a farmer. However, all farmers cannot be tarred with the same brush when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.”

In recent months, RIO has staged discussions with groups and organisations to explain this to them.

As a result of these meetings, ROI claims to have secured backing to “support and fight for justice for smaller farmers being targeted”.


The COP26 on Climate Change takes place in Glasgow, starting on November 1st, 2021. To coincide with this, RIO has joined an alliance of groups and organisations called the COP26 alliance.

“A huge protest is planned for Dublin on November 6th. All groups and organisations will come together to highlight several demands that we believe are necessary.”

Policy has been agreed in RIO that it cannot accept payment for climate and environment measures on a CAP duration basis.

“For example, farmers cannot plant five hectares of trees or rewet five hectares of bog for a few years’ payment and then be told that the government now owns the carbon credits.”

The proposed carbon budgets, which will go before the Dáil in the next few weeks, envisage the rewetting of 80,000 hectares of degraded peatland and planting forestry on 20,000 hectares.

“All farmers must realise that a certain amount of carbon storage is going to happen on farms whether we like it or not.”

“However, we cannot allow small suckler farmers to be wiped out of animal farming so that other sectors can plough on.”

Loftus said carbon credits will be the most valuable asset on these farms. He said whatever actions farmers take now are lifetime actions, so the fight has to be for lifetime payments.”

“If we cannot continue agricultural activities on our farms, rural Ireland will be wiped out.”

Fighting for small farms

In concluding, Loftus said: “This is momentous. We are literally fighting for the continued existence of small farms.”

“The ROI calls on all farmers farming this land to come out and fight for their future on November 6th.”

“Farmers must support the people from our towns and cities who are willing to support farmers on that day and into the future,” he concluded.

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