Many European Green Party members feel that the revised Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) heavily subsidises agricultural practices that are not environmentally aware, according to Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) Pippa Hackett.

The minister attended the European Green event ‘Beyond Stockholm +50: No more time to waste’ in Karlstad, Sweden last week where she gave a key note address on the EU’s CAP.

Speaking about her address, Minister Hackett said that despite the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy, there is still concern that many policies within the upcoming CAP do not deliver for nature. She said:

“It is hugely significant that half of the EU climate spend is to be funneled through the reformed CAP. It shows that the policy must deliver for climate action.”

Minister Hackett said that she understands that “the new CAP is first and foremost an agricultural policy, not an environmental one”, but said the two must overlap.

“While I understand this perspective and share concerns, I am very hopeful that in the Irish context we will deliver the most nature-friendly CAP to date, and that Irish farmers will benefit,” she said.

Referring to the policy, Minister Hackett added that one size never fits all, which is why a locally led approach will be important going forward, to protect biodiversity and address climate resilience.

“I will continue to champion this approach,” she said.

Sharing the state with Par Holmgren, Swedish MEP, Minister Hackett highlighted the Irish farmers who have embraced their role in climate action and who work to build resilience on-farm.

“We have seen such enthusiastic response to schemes on mixed and clover swards, on organics, on soil health and biodiversity,” she said.

“Change is happening at grassroots level. I believe it has been happening quietly for many years but now farmers are able to talk openly about it.”

Perspectives have also evolved at a departmental level, according to Hackett, who praised the change in thinking amongst the government. She concluded by saying that this development must carry on.

“I will continue to press on because we have no time and no choice,” she said.