Sunday Independent (Ireland)

Irish farmers are the custodians of nature


● Sir — I smile wryly when I hear some MEPs tell us of all they have done for Irish farmers.

To others we are a national nuisance, barbarians who must be tamed and educated to our new world. It suits them, when the grim reaper of climate change is upon us, to offer up farmers as sacrificia­l lambs.

The fact that we are worldclass food producers generating billions for the country in food exports and feeding millions of people daily is quietly forgotten.

It is hypocritic­al of MEPs to promise safe, secure, sustainabl­e and affordable food to all EU citizens while legislatin­g diligent producers out of business. This carries through in the importatio­n into Europe of GM grain, or of poultry and pork products from regions with far more lax regulation­s.

It is EU policy to cut CAP payments to productive farmers and incentivis­e others into growing weeds. The late great businessma­n Tony O’Reilly did not build our world-renowned Kerrygold brand on nothing.

For those seriously concerned about biodiversi­ty loss, look up from your phones and tablets. I have never seen such lush hedgerows and trees laden with leaves and blossoms; I have never heard the birds singing as loudly. This is testament that we are custodians of the environmen­t, farming in harmony with nature.

We have made great strides in recent years in meeting our climate obligation­s. Weather controls our every move. If it wasn’t for our dedication and resilience, we would have thrown in the towel after the last few years of high input cost, horrendous weather and a tsunami of legislatio­n and regulation.

We have invested heavily to meet environmen­tal challenges, and these are costs we cannot pass on to the consumer, unlike other industries.

Regardless of whether they like us or not, it’s vital our MEPs back Europe’s ability to feed its people with safe, sustainabl­e food.

As US president and farmer Dwight D Eisenhower once said: “Farming looks mighty easy when your plough is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfields.”

Ned Ward,

Dunmoe, Navan

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