‘Crop biofuel component of EU transport fuels could be slashed in half’

ICSA President Patrick Kent has slammed leaked EU Commission proposals which would undermine previous biofuel policy.

The leak is from a new renewable energy plan from the Commission which apparently will slash the target for the crop biofuel component of EU transport fuels from 7% to 3.4% by 2030.

According to Kent, this strategy flies in the face of logic. The Commission which was supportive of biofuels has now decided to reverse its position without any scientific basis for so doing, he said.

“What the Commission is proposing to do will deny tillage farmers access to an important income stream and also puts at risk 10s of thousands of jobs across Europe.

“It will end investor interest in EU biofuels, with a direct knock on effect on the efforts to revive the Irish sugar industry – proposals which have received the direct support of all of the major political parties in Dail Eireann and it will make it harder to achieve EU targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions from road traffic.”

Perhaps the most ludicrous aspect of the direction the Commission is taking the EU is that the problem which it is trying to solve – the upsurge in palm oil imports into Europe – has nothing to do with European farmers.

“It could be resolved if the Commission and the Member States applied the sustainability criteria set out in EU law and adopted a more differentiated approach to biofuels than the simplistic approach now being advanced.”

Kent said that ICSA wants to see crop based biofuels supported because they offer a real option for hard pressed farmers to make money rather than being totally reliant on food and feed which are in surplus in Europe.

“We see desperate attempts to find new markets for food everywhere from China to Africa which reflects the fact that EU farmers are producing more food and feed than we can consume in Europe.

“Yet we have spent years listening to lectures about how EU farmers should not be supported to produce excess food which would be then ‘dumped’ in Africa to the detriment of African agriculture.”

Kent said that sustainable crop based biofuels provide a win-win in Europe.

Contrary to the ludicrous notion that forests will be levelled and bogs drained, crop based biofuels can fill multiple roles from each hectare grown.

“A hectare used for biofuels still produces top class animal feed as a by-product of the fuel production process.

“As an additional bonus, the by-product feed is higher in protein and thus reduces the need for soya imports from South America.

“In truth, it is the over-dependence on soya imports that is the real cause of forest destruction albeit in South America. There is no credible evidence of struggling farmers in Europe making totally uneconomic investments to reclaim forest or bog to produce animal feeds for livestock systems that are barely viable in 2016.”

For years now, Kent said we have listened to EU Commissioners laud the multi-functional character of EU agriculture.

“In part, this was because both WTO rules and NGO pressures were hostile to policies which subsidised extra food exports from Europe.

“It is now hypocritical to reverse direction and say that much needed renewable fuels are no longer acceptable and that we should go back to expanding food exports to markets in the least developed countries.”

ICSA calls on all of the parties in Dail Eireann to live up to the undertakings that they have given on the issue of sugar/biofuel production and to reject these proposals at national and EU level.

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