Agriculture 'has to operate within nature's boundaries,' new Minister insists

The new Minister of State for Agriculture says Irish agriculture "has to operate within nature's boundaries".
Agriculture 'has to operate within nature's boundaries,' new Minister insists
Green Party Senator Pippa Hackett and Deputy Leader Catherine Martin. Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie
Green Party Senator Pippa Hackett and Deputy Leader Catherine Martin. Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The new Minister of State for Agriculture says Irish agriculture "has to operate within nature's boundaries".

Beef farmer and Green Party senator Pippa Hackett was appointed as her party's "super junior minister" on Saturday and says she views her role in promoting farming and agriculture for the public good.

"Ultimately, we were given the commitments from both parties on the carbon reduction at 7%," she said.

"I think getting started on that is going to be crucial for us.

"Of course that covers those big sectors of energy, transport, and agriculture and I think that's where I see my own role within agriculture, as one that hopefully will build that divide between agriculture and the environment.

I see the future of agriculture as one that simply has to operate within nature's boundaries, I believe we can do that.

When it was put to Ms Hackett that some within rural Ireland were concerned about having a Green representative in an agriculture brief, she rejected that her party would damage the sector.

"I wouldn't be concerned about that at all," she added.

"The agricultural sector in Ireland is the most unequal in terms of incomes.

"Agriculture has now moved away from solely just about producing food.

"It also has a significant role to play in the public good, to people and the public good in the sense of, first addressing our carbon emissions, and a public good for our agriculture to deliver carbon reduction.

"That's good for the whole country and also elements of water quality, air quality and all those other environmental measures which are so important and I think there has been a shift in how agriculture is viewed.

"I think a lot of people would push that we can't give this free pass to agriculture.

"This programme for governmental does that, because I mean the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agree methane has to reduce and we're all agreed it has to reduce, but it does not have to reduce by the same proportion as other greenhouse gases such as carbon and nitrogen oxide which are far more long-lived in the atmosphere.

I think you might naturally reduce by changing environmental practices. Adopting a system change agriculture as we move forward.

"The government's committed to increasing knowledge on organic farming, typically organic farmers produce less methane.

"They ultimately produce a product which receives a premium in the market, so they're better off."

Ms Hackett added that her party did "have to compromise significantly" on banning live exports, there, but does not expect her party to be railroaded in government.

"I think a lot of common ground was found, there are certain points of difference but we're not here to be railroaded," she said.

"I certainly don't think our cabinet ministers and our TDs and senators would allow that."

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