Farmers were generally supportive of this week’s bid to form a new Government.
A commitment to appoint a food ombudsman was welcomed by IFA President Tim Cullinan. He said, “The potential for farmers to contribute to our climate targets through the production of renewable energy must be something the new Government embraces. Farmers are keen to play their part, but to date have been excluded.”
But he warned that the Climate Change Bill will have to take account of the benefits that farmers and agriculture provide in carbon sequestration, and must recognise the cyclical nature of methane in emissions.
ICMSA President Pat McCormack said farmers are reassured by the tone of several of the Programme for Government clauses dealing with agriculture.
The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) said the Programme for Government is welcome in the context of the urgent need to have a stable Government in place to reboot the economy, as businesses start to reopen and with a cliff-edge Brexit still a distinct possibility.
“The document recognises the agri-food sector as Ireland’s most important indigenous industry, which is critically important.”
“The co-operative approach, as a business model can make an important contribution to supporting the rebooting of the economy.”
“The commitment to an average 7% cut in greenhouse gas emissions per annum, equating to a 51% reduction over the next decade, is an extremely challenging target for the Irish economy, especially given our unique emissions profile, where agriculture accounts for over a third of our emissions due to the lack of heavy industry in the wider economy.
“It is welcome that the document acknowledges the special role of agriculture and the distinct characteristics of methane.”
Macra na Feirme welcomed the intention to carry out a baseline biodiversity survey and a national hedgerow survey.
Farmers welcomed the position on live exports. “We acknowledge the income pressure that beef farmers are under and the role live exports play in price competition. Recognising the importance of animal welfare, the new Government will provide additional resources to monitor welfare standards by increasing the veterinary presence available on all live export consignments to third countries. We will vigorously pursue value-enhancing alternative market avenues,” said the Programme for Government.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said supporting live exports is one of the key Fianna Fáil agricultural policies included in the Programme for Government.
He said he will vote yes for the draft programme.
Meanwhile, hopes that the Programme for Government will be accepted by members of the three coalition parties were encouraged by An Taisce describing it as a significant breakthrough on climate and environmental action, and by Stop Climate Chaos saying it is a vast improvement on its predecessor from 2016, and if implemented fully, will mark a major advance in Irish climate policy.
However, the environmentalists' coalition said it lacked firm commitments to reverse the increase in methane and nitrous oxide emissions within the agriculture sector, or to offer any tangible commitments to move away from intensification.
The Irish Wildlife Trust also welcomed the Programme for Government as “potentially transformative for the Irish landscape.”
The support of two-thirds of Green Party voting members is required to allow their participation in government.