“We are not bringing in these climate measures just to try and keep a coalition partner happy,” Minister of State Martin Heydon has said.
Environmental measures are introduced by government because “it is the right thing to do for our country”, according to the minister.
He added that, in terms of trade, “it is the right place to position Irish agriculture and farmers”.
Minister Heydon was speaking on the Agriland livestream of the 2022 National Ploughing Championships, responding to comments by independent TD Michael Healy-Rae against Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
Deputy Healy-Rae said Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael support Green Party policies which are “detrimental to rural life and farming families”.
Responding to this, Minister Heydon said: “I couldn’t disagree more with what Michael Healy-Rae says and I think it is very disingenuous of him actually to make those points.
“FG are very proud to have been in successive governments where we have moved a dial in terms of our climate ambition.
“But at the same time [there has been] an increase of income from agriculture in our rural areas,” according to Minister Heydon.
The minister highlighted Ireland’s Food Vision 2030 Strategy, which aims to increase the value of Irish food and drink exports from a present value of €14 billion to €21 billion.
The minister said a target of €21 billion cannot be achieved by growing the quantity, but by growing the value of produce.
“Whether that is taking milk and milk powder products and turning them into cheese, which has a higher value, that benefits farmers more.
“The high-value markets that we are going into, those customers who are presently buying Irish food and drink and want to do so in the future, have a higher level of climate ambition.
“They need a story for their customers about reducing emissions profiles.
“If Irish farmers were told by government ‘you are ok, stay where you are’, they would find themselves being locked out of markets,” Minister Heydon remarked.