Irish Daily Mail


Rural Ireland will revolt over ‘vicious’ measures

- By Brian Mahon Political Correspond­ent

FARMERS have warned there will be ‘nothing short of an uprising in rural Ireland’ if ‘vicious’ measures are applied to the agricultur­e sector to meet net-zero targets. It comes as senior Government sources acknowledg­ed that the suggestion­s contained in a report reveal one of the most politicall­y challengin­g issues it faces.

The Irish Daily Mail exclusivel­y reported on Saturday that Ireland would need to quadruple its afforestat­ion targets, reduce the number of livestock by 30% and rewet 90% of reclaimed land if the agricultur­al sector is to meet net-zero targets.

The Government has committed to reaching net zero for carbon emissions by 2050.

But the Irish Farmers’ Associatio­n yesterday warned: ‘If some of the headline scenarios outlined in it were to proceed, it would be completely unacceptab­le to the associatio­n and its members and it would cause

nothing short of an uprising in rural Ireland.’

A Land Use Review group was establishe­d as part of the Programme for Government to figure out what this sector would have to contribute in terms of a reduction of carbon emissions. One Government source said that if this review isn’t handled correctly, it would ‘be the biggest challenge for the Government, bar none’.

The report was commission­ed by the Environmen­tal Protection Agency (EPA) but paid for by the Department­s of Agricultur­e and the Environmen­t. The EPA said the report is currently undergoing final preparatio­n and is scheduled for publicatio­n in early March.

Mattie McGrath, leader of the Rural Independen­t TDs, said the report was a ‘vicious’ strike against rural Ireland. He added that it laid bare the ‘devastatin­g impact’ of the Government’s ‘radical green policies’ on farming.

Mr McGrath said: ‘If these proposals are implemente­d, rural Ireland will face mass destructio­n.’ He called for an ‘unequivoca­l’ statement from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Agricultur­e Minister Charlie McConalogu­e, ‘assuring us that no reductions in cattle, pigs, goats and sheep will be considered or implemente­d and that the report will be immediatel­y disregarde­d and incinerate­d’.

The matter is due to be raised in the Dáil today. Another Independen­t TD, Seán Canney, expressed concern following the publicatio­n of the report. He said farmers ‘need to be involved in the decision-making process’ and that they ‘were willing to engage’, but that the findings from the research were ‘not achievable’ and represente­d a ‘hatchet job’ on farming.

Friends Of The Earth chief Oisín Coghlan said the challenge was ‘immense’. He added: ‘It’s never been possible to imagine a netzero agricultur­e sector with the herd as big as it is because our herd has been growing.’

He said it wasn’t a case of reducing the herd to the size it was around 50 years ago, but that it was a reflection that the national cow herd has continued to grow over the last decade or so.

Mr Coghlan added: ‘This issue is not going away; the fact that politician­s don’t like to tell voters, particular­ly well-organised, vocal groups of voters in key constituen­cies, that there is inconvenie­nce ahead doesn’t change the reality that we have to drasticall­y reduce our emissions urgently.’

Last summer, the Government agreed the agricultur­al sector would have to reduce emissions by 25%, with the IFA claiming this figure as a victory for the sector.

However, the reduction in emissions for the sector known as Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) was not set, as it was agreed there was insufficie­nt evidence to set the targets.

LULUCF covers forest land, cropland, grassland, wetlands, settlement­s, other land and harvested wood products.

The LULUCF and agricultur­al sectors are tightly interlinke­d and effectivel­y represent a second set of emission reduction targets that farmers have to meet.

Once the first phase of the Land Use Review is published, the second phase is due to begin, and that will set out what this sector will do to meet its climate objectives. Sources said the report, which was carried out by soil, carbon

‘This issue is not going away’

and agri-ecologists under the auspices of the EPA Research Programme, indicated the scale of the challenge in addressing the climate crisis, but they stressed that the research and the different scenarios modelled within it were not Government policy.

It is understood it is one of many pieces of expert, scientific research that have been undertaken – involving mapping, monitoring and measuremen­t – as part of the evidence gathering for the first phase of the Land Use Review.

 ?? ?? Exclusive: Irish Daily Mail’s front-page story on Saturday
Exclusive: Irish Daily Mail’s front-page story on Saturday

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