Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Claire Kerrane TD, has called on the Minister for Agriculture to engage with Farmers following the publication of a Citizens’ Assembly report on biodiversity loss.
The report makes recommendations on biodiversity, many of which relate to agriculture, forestry, peatlands and other rural focuses.
Teachta Kerrane said:
“It is useful to have a report from the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity loss, and to have a set of recommendations that will now be brought before an Oireachtas Committee for further scrutiny, and this is essential.
“It is also crucial to ensure that farmers are part of the next steps following the report and its recommendations. Farmers are the custodians of the land and they, above anyone, have been the ones protecting it for generations. Their voices must be heard.
“Some of the recommendations in the report require greater scrutiny. I am concerned at the idea of the introduction of a levy on agricultural exports which, to me, is a further charge on farmers, many of whom are struggling with rising costs and in some cases are making little or no profit. Again, this points to an attitude of putting it on the farmer, rather than taking farmers along with us.
“Agriculture is a key driver of economic activity in rural communities especially, penalising farmers with additional levies has a knock-on effect well beyond the farm gate.
“The recommendation to make all biodiversity incentives results-based also needs to be examined closely, some factors like weather are outside of a farmer’s control and can have an impact on results and therefore, income support.
“There are welcome recommendations in this report too, increased funding to support greater and more ambitious biodiversity targets, rewarding farmers for protecting and enhancing biodiversity, and subsidising and incentivising organic farming as an option for farmers.
“One of the farming voices included in the report states that ‘engagement is key’, which really rings true when it comes to finding collaborative solutions for supporting biodiversity.
“I am urging Minister McConalogue to commit to engaging extensively with the farming community on these recommendations and to gain their insights, experiences and expertise around biodiversity in rural areas.
“It should also be ensured that the report is presented to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture as soon as possible.”