IFA President Joe Healy said the support in today’s Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action for the Teagasc climate roadmap was a victory for common sense.
He said the Teagasc Plan, as the basis for further climate action in agriculture, was far better than the unrealistic proposals put forward by the Citizens’ Assembly. This included an unjust and inequitable tax on Ireland’s carbon efficient food production model.
Joe Healy acknowledged the significant activity by IFA officers across the country and the interaction with the Committee to put forward the logic of the Teagasc roadmap rather than the superficial proposals from the Citizens’ Assembly.
The cornerstones of the Teagasc report are improvements to farm level efficiencies; a reduction in fossil fuel use; and the development of on-farm renewables.
The IFA President said that the recommendations regarding the development of farm-scale and community renewables has the potential to make a real difference. These included calling for immediate changes to grid connection, planning policy and the design of the renewable electricity support scheme to support these objectives.
Regarding proposals to increase the existing carbon tax on diesel and heating oil to €80/tonne by 2030, IFA expressed concern that this tax will impose significant costs on farm families and rural communities who do not have alternatives. “A just climate transition means leaving no-one behind. It is unjust to impose a punitive carbon tax in the absence of alternatives.”
Joe Healy has described proposals to divert CAP funds to address the climate challenge as ‘a convenient side-stepping of the need for a robust national climate action budget’.
“Currently, the European Commission is proposing a €100m cut to the annual CAP budget. It is not sustainable to expect farmers to keep delivering more with less, despite the fact that almost 90% of the existing CAP Rural Development Programme is already focused on environmental and climate protection.”
IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney said, “As farmers, we are proud of our climate actions. The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has confirmed that our dairy farmers have the lowest carbon footprint for milk in the EU and our beef farmers are in the top five.
Yes, agriculture’s emissions are significant, but that reflects the importance of the sector to the national economy. However, while agriculture’s emissions have declined by 1% since 1990, emissions from sectors such as transport are spiralling out of control, increasing by 133%. Despite this, farming continues to be a scapegoat for climate inaction in other sectors”.
Farmers climate actions are real. Over 200,000 carbon assessments have been completed, as part of Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme. Over 40% of farmers participate in the Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme. Over 1,000 farmers interact in the voluntary Smart Farming programme.
Concluding, Thomas Cooney said, “The agri-food sector is Ireland’s largest indigenous productive sector and a key driver of economic activity in every parish in Ireland. From a climate efficiency perspective, we are best in class. This leading position provides a platform for further climate action through the delivery of the measures in the Teagasc climate roadmap. However, to secure a just and sustainable climate transition, future climate measures must lead to improved farm level profitability.