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JULY 2019
Pat McCormack
Farmers have to be
part of the solution
to climate change
Lat month's publication of the Climate Action Plan
marks a decisive change in tone and pace of Ireland's
response to the climate change that is happening right
now, and which is proved by all the reputable data and
science. The targets for reduction in farming-related
emission are very challenging and there's no point in
denying that; but ICMSA is determined that as we all
gear up for the enormous changes that will happen
as we confront this challenge, farmers will have to
be recognised as part of the solution. We must guard
against those who in pursuit of their own agendas
will seek to present farmers as `part of the problem'. We
must not allow ourselves or our sectors to be tricked
into a position where we can be presented as deniers
of the science or deemed to be `dragging our feet' on
making the necessary changes. I repeat that ICMSA
accepts the need for change and we will work with
the mandated authorities in introducing the necessary
changes so that the food production required to keep
step with growing populations happens, but we will
work intelligently and with determination to lower
the carbon emissions associated with farming. I
have already urged the Government to fully support
and underwrite the development of real renewable
options that would make a critical contribution to our
climate change commitments. The Government's
previous e orts on renewables had fallen short and
had, in some cases, left farmers who had invested
in equipment `high and dry' when incentives and
schemes were discontinued. That must not happen
again. Everyone must understand the scale of the
challenge and be prepared to make the commitment
necessary: farmers understand the extent of the
challenge that they must help in meeting, but frankly I
wonder whether other links in the food supply-chain,
or indeed the consumers, understand fully that changes
envisaged will and certainly should - mean higher
food prices that reflect the additional costs of farming
and food production.
The very first delusion that must be dispelled is any
idea that the undoubted costs around lowering carbon
emissions are going to be borne by the farmers.
Everyone is going to have to pay for the changes
in farming and food production and everyone
specifically our all-powerful corporate retailers had
better accept that `from the get-go'. Farmers will play
our part but it's up to the Government to drive and
incentivise the policies. That has to mean real reform
and enforcement of margins and real support
for renewables and carbon-mitigation e orts with
the Government actively helping by giving farmers
options and not just standing back while issuing targets,
deadlines and penalties.
The seriousness with which farmers will take our
commitments and duties under the new direction
should not be doubted. Ultimately, no sector needs
sustainability and environmental stability as much as
farming. That's why we will make the changes and
will insist that everyone else takes on board the new
direction and accepts their responsibilities, also. An
example of a group that doesn't seem to accept the
new reality and the consequences that flow from
accepting the new reality is, bizarrely enough, the EU
Commission. How else are we meant to understand
the reports that the EU is on the point of signing a trade
agreement with the Mercosur Group of South American
states? Less than 48 hours after the Irish Government
announced its Climate Action Plan, we learned from
sources within the Commission that it was likely that an
agreement would be reached within days or weeks. The
contradictions between Ireland committing seriously
to combat carbon emissions and the EU considering
an agreement that would involve massively raising
the amount of beef imported from South America
and therefore massively increasing the burning and
otherwise destruction of forest and biodiversity to clear
land for beef production is beyond satire. This is the
kind of perfect contradiction that would be mildly funny
if it was not potentially catastrophic; what is the point
of telling farmers in Ireland that forestry and carbon-
sequestration must now be their priority, while we
are prepared to countenance allowing Brazil to clear
areas the size of small European countries so that they
can produce more beef to meet the hugely increased
quotas for export to the EU that they will demand in any
Mercosur agreement?
Really, what is the point of us doing anything if the
Government and the EU is even contemplating a
Mercosur Agreement that will accelerate what is
already one of the most threatening environmental
degradations on the planet?

Pat McCormack
President, ICMSA
Pat McCormack
Feeding your crops
e ciently and e ectively
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Recommendations: -
Grazing: spread 1 - 1 1/2 bags/acre IFI Pasture Sward
First Cut Silage: spread 4 - 4 1/2 bags/acre IFI Cut Sward
Second Cut Silage: spread 3 - 3 1/2 bags/acre IFI Cut Sward