The Climate Bill must not undermine the continued viability of sustainable farming across Waterford, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 is currently going through the Houses of the Oireachtas.
At a recent Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, a motion about protecting the future for Irish farming families was agreed unanimously following a long discussion with members from both urban and rural constituencies backing the proposal.
Senator Cummins said, “Farmers in Waterford are very climate aware, they want to pass on a sustainable and viable farm to the next generation and they have taken measures to ensure increased sustainability in their production.
“It is absolutely crucial that commercial farm families are supported by the Climate Bill to ensure the very group that can most affect change and strengthen sustainability are not alienated by this legislation.
“Everybody accepts that farming contributes to our emissions, and farmers accept the need to constantly change practices to more sustainable methods. However, there is often scant consideration given to the mitigation and carbon sequestration measures already being implemented by farmers across our county and nationally.
“Carbon budgets will play a real role in helping us achieve our emissions targets, but these budgets must take into account the measures that farmers are already taking.
“CAP reform must also prioritise viability in order to allow Waterford farmers to continue to be the best they can possibly be. We don’t want to see a situation where viable Waterford farms become non-viable because of measures adopted in either the current round of CAP negotiations or the Climate Bill.
“Our systems for beef and dairy are the best and most sustainable in the world and any threat to the viability of farming in Waterford would not only have severe consequences for this county but for Ireland as a whole. It would also set back the war against climate more globally, as we would simply be replaced by less sustainable producers elsewhere in the world.
“The agri-food sector is our most important indigenous industry, providing 173,000 jobs nationally and accounting for 10% of Irish exports. Agriculture is crucial to our rural economy and the income generated is spent locally. It has lead Ireland out of recession on more than one occasion.
“The most certain way to achieve balanced rural development is to ensure the viability of family farming in Waterford, and across the country. We must keep people farming, ensure that farms remain profitable and that farm succession is more viable to protect the family farm model for future generations, and guarantee the protection of our rural environment,” Senator Cummins concluded.