May 8, 2020
“Agri Sector must not be fall guy for FF/FG Emission Policies” – Chris MacManus MEP

“Agri Sector must not be fall guy for FF/FG Emission Policies” – Chris MacManus MEP

Farmers right to fear any ‘environmentalpolicies delivered by traditional parties

Responding to growing concern in the agricultural community regarding government formation talks between the two traditional parties and the Greens, Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus, who sits on the EU Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said:

“The two traditional parties are working hard to look like they are on the side of farmers as they attempt to form a government with the Greens. They know that many people throughout Ireland fear the overly austere environmental policies that will be brought in by such a government.

“Rural Ireland more than anywhere needs change. And, that includes environmental change. But tacking on box ticking environmental targets to the failed policies of the traditional parties is a recipe for disaster.

“We are in a situation where we need to quite quickly reduce our emissions. Any future government will have to reduce emissions and meet internationally agreed targets. The question is how.

“The 7 percent target is on produced emissions rather than consumed emissions. As we have a service-based economy with little heavy industry, our exports of beef and dairy loom large in our produced emissions.

“Ireland represents one of the most sustainable places to produce beef. If European markets shift to less environmental sources for their beef and dairy because Irish farmers were forced to reduce their output, that would be no great achievement for the environment and would economically damage rural Ireland.

“So why would any government pursue such a course of action? The answer is because reducing emission from agriculture requires far less public investment than a similar reduction in transport or energy production.

“Make no mistake, the real cost of going after agriculture would be huge, but it would not show up on the government’s balance sheet.

“Rural Ireland has already been the victims of ‘greenwashing style’ policies in the past. Small to medium sized family farms are the backbone of rural communities. Any new environmental policy could easily wipe out these farmers overnight, whilst the more intensive factory farming models and large-scale industrial feed-lots would continue to expand which would be counter-productive in terms of reducing carbon emissions.

“When we needed natural woodland planted to store carbon, we got for-profit sikha spruce plantations that do not meet their environmental aim and are destroying communities in Leitrim and elsewhere.

“When we needed large offshore wind farms we got deregulated planning rules for onshore. No national plan, just wind turbines scattered regardless of suitability or the concerns of local residents.  

“Greening of existing public transport infrastructure hasn’t happened. Nor has the public transport network been extended to rural communities in any meaningful way.

“Out of the 27 EU member states, plus Britain, Ireland had made the second lowest progress towards hitting our 2020 renewable energy targets.

“Policies that in real terms have no environmental impact or are damaging to rural Ireland is sadly not enough to disqualify them in the eyes of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail – particularly if they are able to shift the blame to another political party.

“The parties of austerity can not be trusted to implement the kind of public investment needed to meet environmental targets in a fair and sustainable way. This is why farmers are right to fear environmental policies if they are delivered by the traditional parties of the right”.


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