CAP reform vital to tackle climate change and protect farmers’ livelihoods, Committee hears

Published by Niall Sargent on

March 6th, 2018

The State must push for CAP reform in order to adequately tackle climate change and protect farmers’ livelihoods, the Oireachtas agricultural committee heard today.

Speaking before a Committee hearing on climate change and the agricultural sector, Michael Ewing of the Environmental Pillar coalition called on the State to support farmers in areas of high nature value in their role as custodians of the land.

Mr Ewing outlined support of the EU Commission’s proposal to prioritise the rewarding of farmers for undertaking environmentally sustainable activities in a results-based system under a reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

He said that the previous CAP reform was supposed to “herald in an era of genuine support” for more sustainable farming but was “thwarted by vested interests”.

He said that the current CAP system, which was supposed to “herald in an era of genuine support”, is not working for our environment or the majority of Ireland’s small family farms “fighting tooth and nail just to make ends meet”.

According to Teagasc, the average farm income is likely to be down to just under 30,000 in 2018, a 6 per cent reduction from last year.

Wheat field in Co. Meath, Ireland Photo: Peter Mooney

Wheat field in Co. Meath, Ireland Photo: Peter Mooney

Mr Ewing said that the Pillar is keen to work with farmers to ensure that climate measures are well financed, especially as our changing climate poses a major threat to the livelihood of our farming community.

Also speaking on behalf of the Environmental Pillar, Ian Lumley said that claims that Irish livestock and dairy exports are important to international food and nutrition security are baseless.

Mr Lumley said that we need to move away from the current “business as usual model” as the ongoing expansion of the meat and dairy sector is leading to significant increases in emissions.

“It should be a general principle of CAP reform that we reach a genuinely sustainable food production matrix which enhances food security and biodiversity, reduces climate impact, and supports the promotion of a more plant-based diet,” he added.

Speaking on behalf of Stop Climate Chaos, Oisin Coghlan, said that the State’s plan for a low-carbon transition that does not compromise our capacity for sustainable food production has been “misleadingly interpreted” to mean that we can continue to increase meat and dairy production using a “business-as-usual” model.

Representations of the Marine Institute, the EPA and Trócaire were also speaking at the meeting.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London