Angry farmers say sector is devastated because Greens are 'running the show'

Angry farmers say sector is devastated because Greens are 'running the show'

In a bid to encourage farmers to adopt more sustainable methods, 25% of funding will be set aside for eco-schemes and the financial allocation will include €723m from the funds collected through carbon taxes.

The Government's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding priorities prove it is "not interested" in supporting the most productive farmers, it has been claimed.

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has accused the Green Party of "running the show" when it comes to agriculture policy with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael "being led by the nose".

It comes as Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue announced an exchequer contribution of €2.30bn for the CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027, bringing total funding to €9.8bn.

In a bid to encourage farmers to adopt more sustainable methods, 25% of funding will be set aside for eco-schemes and the financial allocation will include €723m from the funds collected through carbon taxes.

However, commenting on the allocations, IFA president Tim Cullinan said the message from the Government announcement is that it is not interested in supporting active farming as there is an emphasis on "rewarding farmers for reducing production".

A cohort of our most productive farmers are going to be devastated by the CAP decisions at EU level. The minister's own decisions will do nothing to help these farmers.

He said the plan to allocate the maximum 25% of every farmer’s Basic Payment to eco-schemes is "bizarre" as he said McConalogue had fought to secure flexibility on this at EU level.

However, the minister said the agriculture sector will have to "play its part" in reducing emissions, and that this will partly be based on "stable herd numbers".

He added: "We have to significantly reduce the emissions footprint of the food we produce, and that is a reflection of what's going to have to happen across society in the time ahead."

The Government is expected to sign off on carbon reduction targets of between 21% and 30% for the agriculture sector, which would require significant change.

Mr McConalogue suggested that overhauling the way they work could result in a "win-win" situation both economically and environmentally for farmers.

Minister of State Pippa Hackett said the targets, which are due to be published soon, will be "really ambitious" for agriculture, and the sector is "going to have to move up in how it delivers".

When asked if the national herd will have to be reduced, the Green Party TD said not all farmers have adopted environmentally sustainable practices so there are "gains to be made" in some areas.

She cited a reduction in the use of nitrogen fertiliser, manure management, genetic gains, and the earlier finishing of beef animals as "very measurable deliverable mechanisms to reduce our overall emissions".

"I think when farmers start on that road and see the benefits, maybe see the financial returns of doing things differently, then I think the targets we will be setting will become easier.

"But we're at this moment in time where it is still a very big challenge and I think making that first step to change is also quite difficult. I have every faith in our farmers, they're up for the challenge," she said.

Meanwhile, Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) which represents the Country’s 35 LEADER providers expressed deep disappointment at the allocations announced as part of the CAP measures.

ILDN chairman Jim Finn said the €180m allocation marks a continued decline in support for rural communities over the course of successive programmes.

"Prior to 2016, the LEADER Programme exceeded over €400m over the budgetary period. Today’s allocation points to another devastating cut to the programme over the course of the last decade.”

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