Greens call for common ground at Ploughing Championships
Senior Green Party representatives are meeting with farmers, environmentalists and their organising bodies at The National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co. Laois. Top of the Green Party’s agenda is to dispel false notions of being in opposition to the farming community. At a bustling exhibition space, the Party’s grassroots members and local election candidates are surveying attendees and aiming to recruit more members from farming backgrounds.
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and Laois-Offaly Senator Pippa Hackett said:
“The Green Party has been a positive force for many farmers across Ireland in Government. From the hugely increased organic farming payment rates to the new €1.3 billion euro forestry scheme which will put thousands of euros in farmers pockets for planting trees on their land. There are those who want to chain us to the past and pretend that the Green Party is against farming and against rural Ireland. The opposite is true. As a farmer myself, I know first-hand that farming and nature are absolutely compatible and provide a more sustainable income and a better way of life.
“Our experience at The Ploughing shows that farmers want to do their best to protect nature, and with the right Government supports in place, this is possible and will form the basis of the sustainable farming model we need to embrace for the future.”
Listening to farmers at last year’s Ploughing found that startup costs and ‘red tape’ were the biggest barriers farmers faced in engaging with environmental projects. Along with Minister Hackett, Green Party MEP Grace O’Sullivan is working to address these issues from Brussels.
Ireland South MEP Grace O’Sullivan said:
“Farmers have been let down by previous Governments and EU policies that focused solely on intensification for economic gain and ignored the environmental consequences. Greens fully appreciate that reversing this course is far from easy and we want to achieve the necessary changes through incentives rather than punitive measures. The Greens in Europe are fighting hard to ensure the right funding is in place and the processes for new schemes are easy for farmers to navigate.”
The common ground between Greens and farming families extends beyond agriculture.
Senator Róisín Garvey, Green Party Spokesperson for Rural Development, Enterprise and Employment added:
“I live on the family farm at home, and I worry deeply for the future of the small family farm in Ireland. The Green Party has great policies around protecting it both financially and against the climate challenges farmer face. 48,000 farmers have taken up A.C.R.E.S which is a results-based scheme. This shows farmers are willing to do what they can to enhance biodiversity and increase woodlands. With the increase in rural transport options and reduction in costs we finally can also give rural dwellers alternatives around public transport unseen for decades.”
Chair of the Green Party and newly announced MEP Candidate for Midlands North-West, Senator Pauline O’Reilly concluded:
“Farmers are the first people forced to contend with climate change and they are frontline defenders of nature. We need the right funding streams that will support the transitions we need to make. Honest dialogue and constructive alliances are central to making that possible. Farmers have a long history of political affiliation with older parties. As a newer, smaller party, we benefit greatly from having the voice of people closest to the land in our membership. We’re here at the Ploughing with a simple message: join us and let’s continue uniting farming and nature.”
The Green Party stand can be found at The Hub, Block 4, Row 35, Stand 536, Units 71-74.