February 27, 2024
Farmers concerns not addressed by Nature Restoration Law – Chris MacManus MEP and Claire Kerrane TD

Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands/North West, Chris MacManus, and party spokesperson on Agriculture, Claire Kerrane TD, have said that the party rejected the Nature Restoration Law in the European Parliament today because key concerns of farmers had not been met.

Chris MacManus MEP said:

“We know that many in the farming community are concerned about what has been included in the Nature Restoration Law.

“Sinn Féin have set out at every stage that it had to address the key concerns of the farmers. We came at this with the right attitude, wanted to see legislation passed and we tabled amendments previously to address the concerns raised with us by farmers and those living in rural communities.

“The areas that we examined closely included ensuring that any activities are voluntary – not mandatory – and that there is public participation in our own national plan from start to finish.

“More importantly, we wanted clarity and assurances on long-term permanent funding as a source of income for farmers, fishers, foresters and others for dedicated nature restoration to ensure generation renewal. We voted in favour of the law in July plenary session in the hope that during the negotiations that small farmers, particularly along the west and north west of Ireland, would not have to bear the heaviest burden.

“Unfortunately, this did not materialise. We in Sinn Féin must now make sure that the consultation process on the national restoration plans will address these key issues, so we can ensure the viability of long-term farming, funding and the environment.

“Farmers are being asked to do more environmentally and, while they are willing and able, they are receiving less for their work. That can’t continue. We have seen with the farmers protests in Ireland and across Europe how much they are struggling with rising input costs, inflation, exploitation by processors and retailers, and farm succession.

“What has passed is not adequate and doesn’t deliver for farmers and rural communities and that is why Sinn Féin opposed the Nature Restoration Law today. Our focus will now turn to ensuring that the government will work with farming, fishing and environmental organisations to help put together a plan that works for everyone.”

Claire Kerrane TD said:

“Huge gaps remain following the passage of this legislation about how funding will be provided for farmers to undertake nature restoration activities.

“Reference to public participation and compensation have been removed, and analysis of gaps in implementing it are only required from Member States now; after the law has passed. That is not good enough.

“While a national Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund was set out in Budget 2024, none of this has been earmarked for agriculture and there is no sign how longer-term funding will be provided.

“Assessments and planning should have been carried out well ahead of today’s vote in the European Parliament, to provide assurance to farmers and rural communities. Given the law has now passed, that must now happen without delay.

“Given how badly farmers have been let down by our government, we simply cannot rely on them to deliver a just transition for the agricultural sector.”

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