Macra na Feirme president John Keane has defended the organisation’s opposition to the Climate Bill, saying that young farmers need a guarantee their futures won’t be impacted.
Keane was speaking during an Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action hearing on climate change and how Ireland can achieve a 51% reduction in emissions by 2030.
Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan commented that Irish agriculture produces the best food in the world, but asked why Macra opposed the bill. O'Sullivan highlighted that no sector other than agriculture had had specific elements pulled out of the bill, such as the “unique” role of the short-lived greenhouse gas biogenic methane produced by ruminant livestock.
In response the Macra president insisted that the organisation is well aware of the responsibilities of meeting climate targets but pointed to the shadow of uncertainty the bill cast over the future of farming.
Keane highlighted that for a young farmer in their 20s coming home and making a significant investment in their farm was almost impossible if they were faced with a potential cull to their herd or cut in fertiliser usage brought in under the bill.
This had previously been referenced by Keane in his opening statement to the Oireachtas, where he said: “If this target reduction is applied equally, a 51% reduction target for agriculture is more than trebling the previously set target of 10-15%. It is unrealistic to target the reduction of biogenic methane emissions as this reduction can threaten the entire future of the livestock sector."
Keane said all farmers are keen to do their bit to fight climate change, but results-based schemes are needed. He also pointed to the work of Teagasc Signpost farms and other similar projects where good examples of climate mitigation measures have been showcased.