The Green Party has accused the government of lacking big picture thinking in its approach to agriculture in budget 2019.
Green Party Spokesperson on Agriculture Pippa Hackett: “Irish Agriculture faces a mammoth task. This is a makeshift budget, short-sighted in nature, and does nothing to address the huge issues facing the sector, particularly in terms of the spiralling emissions from the continued pursuit of the Government’s FoodWise strategy.
“We welcome the increase in ANC payments, which will provide some support to farmers in disadvantaged areas. The continued investment in forestry is also welcome, but Minister Creed must ensure that it supports a long-term carbon-storing forestry model that is attractive to our farmers. More agroforestry, continuous cover models, and native hedging will help farmers deal with flooding, assist biodiversity, and help stabilise soils.
“The BEEP (€40/suckler cow) scheme will do little to help alleviate the problems facing Irish beef production. Last week’s beef kill was the highest for 15 years, yet beef prices are on the ground – go figure!
“Will the increase in funding to Teagasc help us decarbonise this sector? We don’t need more advice on increasing fertiliser and pesticide use, we need research on how farmers can keep carbon in our soils, how we can make our soils more resistant to flooding, and how farmers can improve grass and crop performance without the added costs of fossil fuel fertilisers and environmentally damaging pesticides.
“Will the increase in funding to Bord Bia provide better, more lucrative, markets for our food producers? Or will they just be looking at exporting more raw produce into an ever-diluted global market?
“This Government is doing nothing to help our farmers break away from a model which is all about quantity, high production costs, and poor returns. A model which favours large processors and global agribusiness will never protect our environment. Farmers need to manage their lands and produce food in harmony with nature, not against it.
“Irish agriculture needs to be resilient to the effects of climate change yet play its role in fighting it. Our farmers have been exploited for decades, and our emissions keep rising. Without radical change, this will continue. If we keep doing the same thing over and over, we will keep getting the same results. We need a Government that thinks about the future, and not just the next election.
“The Green Party is all about the bigger picture – the future of our farmers, their children, and their children’s children. We need a model that supports our farmers in the best way possible, to produce food, to manage our landscapes, and to help secure all our futures.”
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