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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Sasko Lazarov/

Farmers rally against impact of climate bill and CAP on agriculture sector

Demonstrations were organised in 30 towns in Ireland this morning.

FARMERS ARE PROTESTING around the country today over concerns about the impact of new legislation.

Demonstrations were organised in 30 towns in Ireland this morning to highlight farmers’ dissatisfaction with EU reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the government’s climate action bill.

Farmers drove tractors through towns, handed out leaflets and held signs with the slogan: “Stand Up For Farming.”

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) is objecting to climate policies being implemented “without any assessment of the economic and social impact they will have on farmers and rural Ireland”.

IFA President Tim Cullinan said that he has warned the government that “unless there is a change in the current direction of the CAP and changes to the flawed Climate Action Bill, farming in Ireland, as we know it, will cease to exist”.

The CAP is a common policy for the agriculture sector in EU countries that was first launched in 1962.

A reform of the policy is due to be implemented from 1 January 2023.

Cullinan said that a “cohort of productive farmers are being hit with huge cuts under the CAP” and that “the EU wants farmers to do more environmental actions, but they won’t fund it”.

“The Irish Government have to secure the maximum flexibility under the CAP and fully honour their Programme for Government commitments to co-finance the CAP and allocate €1.5bn from the Carbon Tax to fund environmental measures,” he said.

At a national level, the IFA is objecting to the treatment of carbon budgets and farming in the proposed climate action bill.

“The Bill’s overall goal is to be climate-neutral by 2050 on a ‘net carbon’ basis. However, the proposed definition of carbon budgets in the Bill only refers to emissions and not removals.”

There are references to removals elsewhere in the draft bill, but the definition of carbon budgets is set out as: “The total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are permitted during the budget period.”

Cullinan said that “as it is currently drafted, it will also result in ‘carbon leakage’. Less food will be produced in Ireland, with more being produced in countries with a higher carbon footprint, which will increase global warming.”

“It’s environmental showmanship with no regard for the real impact of the measures on actual global warming,” he said.

A demonstration was organised in every county in the State today, with two in Tipperary and three in Cork.

Jim Mulhall, the chair of the IFA’s Kilkenny branch, was at the demonstration in Kilkenny town, which he said is “very much a service and agriculture based town” where farmers earn and spend money locally.

Speaking to The Journal, Mulhall said there was “good support, there were people on the streets, and I suppose they were curious to see a parade of tractors going down the street – I’m sure it was an unusual sight!”

“We got in, got through the city, had our protest, made our point and caused as little disturbance to everybody as we could because we are very conscious that local businesses are only opened up and we didn’t want to choke up the town but yet we wanted to exercise our right to protest,” Mulhall said.

“It was interesting to drive down my own city street on a tractor,” he said.

“It was well received, a lot of the local traders came out and gave us a thumbs up. They realise the importance of agriculture.”

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