The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has stated that the withdrawal of the EU nature restoration law from the agenda of a meeting of EU environment ministers this week was “absolutely correct”, as the law remains unpopular among farmers.

The meeting had been expected to give the final rubber stamp needed for the law to come into force, after it was voted through the European Parliament in February.

ICMSA president Denis Drennan called for EU institutions to reassess its approach to the environment and open themselves up to working closer with farmers on environmental issues.

“I don’t know how many times the nature restoration law has to get stuck before its sponsors recognise that it’s just not going to work because there are too many reservations about it – all of which are fully justified,” Drennan commented.

Collaboration is key

The ICMSA president said that the association’s position is not anti-environment, but would in fact allow for more progress to be made on environmental matters as it seeks to utilise farmers’ skills.

“It certainly has a much better chance of succeeding than this present and discredited policy of regulation after regulation and an unwillingness to face up to the need to end the ‘cheap food’ policy or demand of foreign imports the same environmental standards you impose on your own EU farmers,” he continued.

Drennan claimed that current EU policies are wasting “billions” on assessments and consultants.

“We need to move away from this model and start investing these billions in the environment, in the farmers and communities who steward it and reset EU agri-environment policy away from this failing antagonistic attitude to farmers where they are treated instead as partners in the drive to protect the environment in which we all have an interest,” he said.

Donegal motion

Separately, the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) has reported that Donegal County Council backed a motion calling on Government to reject the law in its current form after the hill farmers’ group addressed a council meeting.

The motion raised concerns on the “very serious impact that the law will have on farming and associated economic activity within the county”,

INHFA national chair Pheilim Molloy outlined how “the association addressed a recent meeting of Donegal County Council on the proposed law detailing the impact the law will have for farming and rural communities”.

“Our concerns on this law are well known and while Minister [for the Environment Eamon] Ryan continues to push for the adoption of the law, it is critical that he, the Government and European institutions know that his opinion is not representative of our farmers, rural Ireland and the elected representatives in County Donegal,” Molloy commented.

The INHFA representative called on other county councils to “to follow the lead taken by Donegal and pass this or similar motions which will help to reinforce the message that the law is flawed and must not be enacted”.

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