A white flag of sorts was raised between the often adversarial farming and climate groups in the Dáil this week.

Speaking during a debate on nature restoration and land use at the Oireachtas Environment and Climate Action Committee, Irish Environmental Network (IEN) representative Fintan Kelly described farmers as the “biggest victim” of EU and national climate and food policy failures.

“When we’re talking about [climate] issues, they’re obviously very complex and we often talk about agriculture and the way we state agriculture, farmers often interpret it that we’re targeting farmers.

“This is a much broader societal issue. This is a failure of generations of national policy, EU policy, market forces [and] society’s attitudes towards farming which have driven a cheap food model.

“Farmers are the biggest victims, along with the environment, of the systems that we have created. From the environmentalist perspective, we very much feel that farmers are the solution,” he said.

Kelly suggested that a lot of Ireland’s most threatened species and habitats are “dependent on farmers”.

Building trust

The IEN views were echoed by Senator Lynn Boylan, who noted that farmers and climate groups can’t achieve anything by being at loggerheads.

The Sinn Féin politician called for honesty between all stakeholders when it comes to the need to act to reduce emissions, stating that “trust” and the use of accurate scientific evidence is vital in this.


IFA policy director Tadhg Buckley said that if climate improvements are to be achieved, there has to be a collaborative approach between farmers and environmentalists.

“At the essence of it, there has to be farmer consent and on a voluntary basis, I think farmers will act.

“They will absolutely get behind programmes where they know and they can see that they will have a sustainable future,” he said.