The Government and the Irish agri sector are guilty of “blinkered vision” when it comes to combating climate change, the Irish Grain Growers Group (IGGG) has warned.

The grain growers' organisation has posed a series of questions to policy makers on climate policy direction, with the crux of its concerns relating to there being no Food Vision tillage group.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has set a Food Vision dairy group and the Food Vision beef and sheep group the task of coming up with measures which might help their respective sectors meet carbon targets.

No such group currently exists for the tillage sector.

An IGGG spokesperson simply asked: “Where is the Food Vision tillage group?”

“While the Food Vision report is being compiled, one has to wonder what emphasis will be put on the Irish tillage sector?

"Form shows that the tillage sector has not been considered with any seriousness in reports like Food Wise 2025 or Food Harvest 2020,” they said.

Not being talked about

The IGGG spokesperson warned that it is a “real worry” that tillage farmers are “not being talked about” in the development of emissions reduction policy development.

“The fear we have as tillage farmers [is] that when budgets are set aside by Government departments to tackle climate change, the emphasis and budget will be put towards the problems of [the] dairy, beef and sheep sectors.

“Will there be little emphasis or funding on the solution that is the tillage sector?” they asked.

Equal footing

The IGGG also outlined its claims that tillage farmers are being treated on “equal footing with imported industrial by-products to feed livestock and foul”.

The group said that Teagasc research indicates that using native ration can lower the winter milk carbon footprint by a “substantial” 32%.

The tillage farmer group also described how those in the sector are “constantly working with one hand tied behind their backs” when it comes to modern production techniques, such as GM production, that are available outside of the EU.

“Why are we put into such an uncompetitive situation when it comes to production. Non-GM feedstuffs command a premium elsewhere. Where is the premium for Irish tillage farmers for our non-GM produce?” they said.

Other questions put forward by the IGGG include:

  • Why is there such a reluctance to push and promote native Irish grain and pulses from the feed industry?
  • Where is the tillage voice on the Teagasc authority?
  • Solutions

    The group says it believes that a Food Vision tillage group would have “put forward many positive recommendations when it comes to climate change”.

    “The blinkers need to be pulled off to show more real vision on food production and climate change. More focus on the solutions is necessary, not the problems, as has been the case,” a spokesperson said.

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