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IFA PRESIDENT CHALLENGES GOVERNMENT AT SMART FARMING SEMINAR TO HARNESS POTENTIAL OF AGRICULTURE

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IFA PRESIDENT CHALLENGES GOVERNMENT AT SMART FARMING SEMINAR TO HARNESS POTENTIAL OF AGRICULTURE

 

Opening the Smart Farming Spring seminar in Portlaoise today (Tues), IFA President Joe Healy challenged the Government to come forward with a comprehensive climate action plan that will harness the potential of agriculture.

Joe Healy asked why the feed-in tariff and the preferential grid access and planning which are needed to make on-farm and community renewable energy possible, have not happened.

“Government seems prepared to write a cheque to buy compliance with 2020 climate targets rather than working with farmers who are willing to deliver on bio-energy, fossil fuel displacement, and the wider circular and bio-economy. 2020 policy inaction must not be the blueprint for 2030 and beyond,” he said.

The IFA President said a fully-funded CAP budget is critically important for Ireland, in respect of its farmers, economy, jobs and consumers, as well as contributing to environmental protection and combatting climate change.

IFA is calling on the Irish Government, led by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, to insist that the CAP Budget for Ireland is increased to cover the cost of inflation and to pay for any increased requirements placed on farmers, such as additional climate and environmental obligations.

“We encourage you to join IFA in this campaign by making sure you attend the three remaining open farmer meetings with candidates running in the European election. The next one is on tonight in the Springfort Hall Hotel in Mallow,” he said.

 

IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney said the average cost savings identified on the farms that participated in Smart Farming in 2018 was just over €7,000. The programme also identified ways to reduce climate impact by 9%.

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Environment

THE SCIENCE HAS MOVED ON AND SO MUST THE RULES – IFA

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IFA President Tim Cullinan has said the way that methane emissions from the national herd are currently accounted for is not appropriate.  This must be addressed at international level by the Department of Agriculture.

Speaking during the Department of Agriculture’s Ag-Climatise Forum today, he said it’s clear from research carried out in the University of Oxford in the UK and experts including Prof. Frank Mitloehner, that methane is  different to other greenhouse gases.

Professor John Fitzgerald, Chair of the Government’s Climate Advisory Council, acknowledged that the way methane is currently accounted for is ‘probably not appropriate’, but that this cannot be factored into the international accounting rules until 2030.

“IFA will not be participating in this charade. If the science has evolved, then the rules have to change, and they must change now,” he said.

In addition to the need for a change in the way methane is accounted for, there is also a major issue with the fact that carbon sequestered by farmers is not being accounted for.

IFA Environment Chairman Paul O’Brien said, “Farming is not getting any credit for the carbon in our pasture and our hedgerows. This needs to be quantified. The clear responsibility lies with Teagasc to do the research and calculate how much Irish agriculture is storing”.

“No other sector of society is as engaged in climate action, with over 250,000 carbon assessments now completed using the Bord Bia and Teagasc carbon navigator, across 130,000 farm families. However, farmers are getting increasingly frustrated that they are being scapegoated based on incomplete calculations, which is leading to them being wrongly vilified,” he said.

Regarding renewables, IFA has said that farmers have listened to the rhetoric and the promises, with no action. This must change. The next Government must support farm scale and community renewables, address grid access issues and provide tariff supports.

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Environment

EPA announces €10 million Government of Ireland funding for new environmental research

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced awards totalling €10 million to fund vital new environmental research. The largest awards have been made to University College Cork and the National University of Ireland, Galway, for projects looking at: recyclable plastics for packaging; and, pesticide management for better water quality. Other awards include research on:

  • mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions through diversification of agriculture in Ireland;
  • effects of climate change on sea levels around the coast of Ireland;
  • impacts of climate change on health and wellbeing in Ireland;
  • impact of traffic emissions on air quality in Dublin;
  • radioactivity in the Irish coastal environment; and
  • greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions from uncontrolled burning in Irish upland areas.

Commenting on the announcement, Laura Burke, Director General, EPA, said,

“Over 100 proposals were received by the EPA Research Programme under EPA Research Calls in 2019 and we are happy to announce today that the most promising projects are now getting underway. Ireland is experiencing complex and systemic challenges which impact on our environment and, by extension, our health. High quality, policy-relevant research is essential to setting out sustainable and low-carbon transition pathways for our society, our ecosystems, and our economy.  It is also critical to informing good decision making.”

The EPA environmental research programme is a Government of Ireland initiative, funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment. The programme funds research that addresses important knowledge gaps about climate change, water quality, air quality, waste management, the circular economy, biodiversity, radiation and sustainable development and provides the evidence base to support high quality policy development and implementation in these areas.  Collaboration with other State organisations is a key feature of the programme.

Dr Alice Wemaere, EPA Research Manager, said,

“Through the EPA Research Programme, we have leveraged a high level of co-funding from various Departments and Agencies, giving an insight into the integrated nature of the environmental challenges facing us. The co-funding model nurtures an integrated, cross-sectoral approach and provides us with the opportunity to strengthen our collaboration with other organisations in addressing key environmental challenges.
“Co-funding is being provided by the Department of Transport, the Department of Agriculture, the Marine Institute, Met Eireann, the OPW, National Parks & Wildlife, and others. The outputs from these projects will provide an evidence base for credible environmental decision-making into the future and we will ensure that they are widely shared for implementation.”

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Calling all Tipperary Creative Amateur Gardeners to apply for Bord Bia Bloom 2020!

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Bord Bia Bloom festival returns this June bank holiday weekend from 28th May to 1st June in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. With planning well underway, Bord Bia Bloom is calling for budding gardeners from Tipperary to submit entries for the popular Postcard garden category. Postcard gardens offer passionate amateur gardeners, garden clubs, community and GIY groups a chance to showcase their talents to over 115,000 visitors attending the event.

The Postcard gardens are small but perfectly formed 3m x 2m plots which can be used to represent a club, locality, special person or character from your community.  Last year schools, communities, day care centres and resource centres from around Ireland brought themes such as autism, mental-wellbeing, climate change and children’s literature to life through flowers, planting, art and woodwork. Longford Town Guild, Irish Countrywomen’s Association received ‘Best in Show’ for their Postcard Garden ‘Fork to Fork’ which demonstrated how we can turn the tide on unsustainable consumption by using the earth around us to feed ourselves.

Kerrie Gardiner, Bord Bia Bloom Show Garden Manager said, “The Postcard gardens are such a special part of Bloom and are a personal favourite of mine! They offer emerging gardeners and community groups a chance to showcase their talents, while also inspiring other amateur gardeners to get out into nature and experience the joy of gardening”. The Postcard Garden application form can be downloaded from BloominthePark.com and the closing date to apply is Monday, 2nd March 2020.

Bord Bia Bloom, Ireland’s annual showcase of the best of Ireland’s horticulture and food industry is in its fourteenth year, and will once again feature a range of spectacular show gardens, food features, music, fashion, and entertainment for all the family. With Early Bird tickets on sale until the 28th of February, buy yours today at www.bloominthepark.com, and remember, children go free!

 Follow Bloom on www.facebook.com/BordBiaBloom and join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram via @BordBiaBloom.

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