Government’s lack of climate ambition ‘threatens farmers’ livelihoods’

4th September 2017

The Green Party has expressed disappointment in Friday’s publication of the Government’s document ‘Adaptation Planning - Developing Resilience to Climate Change in the Irish Agriculture and Forest Sector’ from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

Speaking today, Green Party’s Spokesperson on Agriculture, Pippa Hackett said: “The DAFM document can hardly be described as a plan. It is little more than a review of current schemes, with very little of substance on how we address our long term climate challenges. The publication of this document, following on from the EPA's National Assessment on Water Quality shows the Government is completely failing to answer the challenge of climate change - putting our farmers' livelihoods at stake and destroying Ireland’s natural resources.

“The current focus of the DAFM on increasing agricultural production, despite clear evidence of the damage this will do to our countryside, to the viability of small to medium farms, and to the good name of our agri-food industry, displays a clear bias towards large producers and processors to the detriment of all other stakeholders within the sector. Worryingly, parts of the document read as if climate change is to be welcomed with opportunities of longer growing seasons, increases in grass and forestry growth, and less frost damage to crops with milder winters. While this may offer some economic benefit in the short term, it is likely to be offset by significant increases in rainfall resulting in increased flooding, damaged crops, reduced water quality and poorer animal welfare.  There are also significant risks from new and invasive species as a result of new climate conditions. These are the aspects we should be concentrating on.

“This document makes reference to existing schemes such as the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) and Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environmental Scheme (GLAS), and while they have their place as important agri-environmental schemes, they do not actively address how we should adapt to what lies ahead. Unfortunately, there is no mention whatsoever to the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS). This is potentially one of the most beneficial schemes, not only for climate adaptation and mitigation, but also for the quality of our soil, our biodiversity, and our water, yet this Government is actively starving this sector of support and resources. We also note that food security has been omitted as outside the remit of this plan. This is a short-sighted and questionable position for the Government to take.  

“The evidence could not be clearer that we need to make the investments and adjustments now, not just to adapt to the effects of climate change, but to address climate change mitigation. We need to invest in our farmers and landowners now to support them to take the necessary measures, which will not only secure their livelihoods in the short and medium term, but secure their farms and families into the futures.”