Farm organisations are not doing a service to farmers by simply saying ‘no’ to proposed climate action measures, according to the chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) Marie Donnelly.
Donnelly urged farm leaders to come forward and “make clear” what farmers want when it comes to climate measures and “set out their own plan”.
“Let’s look at that and let’s see if we can work with it to deliver the results. But just saying no all of the time is giving the wrong message and is not doing a service to farmers,” she said.
The CCAC chair was responding to a question from the Irish Farmers Journal regarding proposed emissions reduction measures in the Food Vision beef and sheep report not having farm organisation backing.
She was speaking during a Teagasc Signpost webinar on the ‘challenges and opportunities of the green transition’ on Friday.
Donnelly agreed that having farmer backing for proposed climate measures is “absolutely fundamental”.
“I have been confronted frequently with this supposed urban rural divide on climate. Personally, I don’t believe it.
“I haven’t yet met a farmer who wasn’t deeply involved with sustainability as a concept and as a practice. Most farmers that I meet feel that they are guardians of the land for the next generation.
"Sustainability is ingrained in farmers in Ireland, so it’s not correct to say that we have this urban rural divide,” she said.
However, the CCAC chair said this is not the “message” being delivered to wider media and the public if “farm leaders constantly say no to plans, whatever the plan might be”.
“We need to have a yes mentality and then set out what is the criteria. It’s yes because we want this, this, and this, rather than no because we don’t like that, that and that,” she said.
This week, the Food Vision beef and sheep group published a report outlining proposed measures to reduce emissions from the beef and sheep sectors. The proposals, including schemes to destock the suckler herd and earlier slaughter ages, have now been shared with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.