March 24, 2021
Government approach will fail both farmers and the environment – Matt Carthy TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has said that none of the three government leaders who launched the new Climate Action Bill this week can be trusted to deliver for either the environment or Irish family farmers.

He added that the conflicting commentary from Eamon Ryan, Mícheál Martin and Leo Varadkar as to the numbers of cattle in the national herd showed that they each completely miss the point.

Teachta Carthy said:

“The crucial issue is not simply how many cattle there are in Ireland, it is how those cattle are reared. Some forms of production are more sustainable than others. Government party leaders completely miss that point.

“Our suckler herd produces among the most sustainable beef in the world. But, it is among the least profitable.

“Other forms of production such as factory feedlots, on the other hand, are much less sustainable and provide less benefit to rural communities. To reduce the number of suckler cows while facilitating the continued intensification of feedlot production would be utterly pointless.

“To reduce Ireland’s beef production while supporting EU trade deals that will result in the importation of less-sustainable beef in other parts of the world is also nonsensical.

“The EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, has described as ‘maladministration’ the failure of the European Union to conclude a Sustainability Impact Assessment in advance of concluding the EU-Mercosur trade agreement.  

“Yet this government have not yet committed to rejecting this trade deal that would see up to 99,000 tonnes of beef flood the European market and directly led to further destruction of rainforests.

“The stance on Mercosur is reflective of the approach from the Green Party to sustainability. Their consistent position is to impose standards at home that simply exports the climate impact to other countries.

“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have a long record of abandoning smaller family farmers in their drive for further intensification and reduced profitability while simultaneously facilitating the dominance of large processors and retailers. None of this delivers for either the environment or farming communities.

“If government are serious about tackling the climate crisis and supporting Irish farming then they will ensure that environmental and agricultural policy is aimed at supporting farming families to thrive by increasing financial supports to the most sustainable sectors, addressing market imbalances, facilitating entry of smaller farmers to organic schemes, revitalising farm forestry and promoting diversification. 

“None of these measures have been forthcoming from any of the government parties. Their approach fails both the environment and our family farmers.”

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