Climate emergency: ‘What we need to see is follow-up action’

Follow-up action needs to be seen from the Government following this week’s declaration of a “climate emergency”, according to new national president of Macra na Feirme Thomas Duffy.

Speaking to AgriLand at the 2019 Macra na Feirme annual general meeting (AGM) today, Saturday, May 11, shortly after assuming office, the new president said:

“Ultimately, it’s very easy to say things – but what we need to see is follow-up action.

“Teagasc has had a roadmap for quite some time on how agricultural emissions could be reduced. Perhaps there’s more ambition that we should be putting into that; but ultimately everything that we do has to take account of the economic and social sustainability.

You can’t be talking about depopulating half the country or destroying an entire industry.

“So what we have to do is balance the importance of the emergency that is climate change – and I’m not trying to diminish that – but we have to ensure that that leads to a just transition for rural dwellers as well.”

Duffy noted that climate change is becoming an increasingly serious issue, adding that it will be a top priority for Macra due to its impact on agriculture.

“Climate change will impact agriculture – and mitigation methods have to be balanced,” he said.

Macra beef proposal

Duffy also commented on the protests on the beef industry during the week.

“The first thing to say is that Macra actually has an in-depth proposal on the steps that we want to see for a more sustainable beef sector and a better return for farmers.

“That’s the work of the Agricultural Affairs Committee which has done sterling work in our iteration of a beef strategy.

“Our policy on that was launched not that long ago; it lays out everything in a huge amount of detail.

“We’re going to be continuing to do more work on that to minimise any potential conflict there could be between the different sectors of beef.

In terms of the return to farmers – ultimately, that’s key. We need to ensure that the quality beef that is being produced is being properly paid for.

Duffy noted that sectors will advance and that Macra is always open to progress in any sector.

“What I don’t agree with is diminishing or dismissing any sector in the country. Ultimately, you can’t have an entire agricultural sector made of one sector.

“I can understand the reasonable frustrations and anger that’s out there, but ultimately Macra has always been part of a progressive and, more importantly, constructive process of trying to reform and change the agricultural sector.

“We’ll do that as much with beef as any sector,” the president concluded.