Dozens of farmers have been gathering as part of an organised protest today (Sunday, December 12) to protest climate change proposals.
The Individual Farmers of Ireland (IFI) has organised the ‘No Farmers, No Food’ protest action are various locations and farmers have been gathering at meeting points in Wexford, Navan, Kinnegad, Kildare and the M7 since about 11:00a.m.
IFI is the group that organised the tractor demonstration protests in Dublin in 2019 and January 2020, taking to the streets of the capital over beef prices at the time.
Demands from the protest line
A spokesperson for IFI told Agriland that they have a list of demands for the government.
Firstly, the group argues that the 35% figure indicated as being from agricultural carbon emissions “needs to be corrected”.
The spokesperson said: “This is a false figure as this represents the 20 million tonnes of carbon produced on farms, but has not taken account of the carbon sequestered by our grass, crops and hedgerows.
“We demand that carbon tax on agri diesel is cancelled due to the fact that carbon tax is designed to change people’s habits to greener energy; we have no alternative fuel,” he added.
The IFI said that a Teagasc report “correctly” claims that this carbon tax is a pay cut to farmers and contractors, as farmers are “price takers” and cannot pass on this increase in costs to their customers.
The IFI representative continued: “The 25% share of the BPS that is being taken from farmers and forcing farmers to spend money to earn back their own money is totally unfair; this is asking farmers to do more for the environment for less.
Slaughter age and food production
The protest group also said that reducing the slaughter age of beef cattle to 24 months “will destroy our grass-fed beef image. As most calves are born from January to April, these animals will have to be slaughtered out of sheds rather than from the following summers grass”.
The IFI claims that this will reduce slaughter weights by over 100kg costing over €450 and will add over €300 in extra meal feeding expenses per animal, meaning the total loss to farmers of €750 per head.
The spokesperson continued: “Our government signed up to the Paris Climate Agreement; this clearly states that ‘we are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a manner that does not threaten food production’. This means that any recommendations in the climate bill cannot legally reduce food production.”
The IFI added that the United Nations (UN) claims that the world’s food production needs to rise by 70% by 2050 due to the rise in world population.
The group argues that Ireland has the lowest emissions in the world for the food that is produced here.
Support for young farmers
The IFI is also calling for the resignation of Green Party MEP Ciaran Cuffe.
The Midlands North West MEP recently wrote a letter to banks outlining his concerns about lending money to farmers, which the IFI has said would be “a disaster for the economy and rural Ireland”, if such an approach was adopted by lending institutions.
The MEP has since admitted that it was wrong to focus his attention on young farmers when the entire economy needs to work to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Meanwhile hauliers, truck drivers and commercial vehicle owners also intend to protest in Dublin again tomorrow, over fuel prices.
Grardaí say they are aware of a protest which is scheduled for Dublin city tomorrow (Monday, December 13) and is advising motorists to expected delays as a result.
It’s the second protest to take place in recent weeks, organised by a social media group calling itself ‘Irish Truckers & Haulage Association Against Fuel Prices‘.
Many involved in the agri-food and agricultural sector have been supporting the protest as the industry also relies on haulage to transport produce and exports.
The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) has distanced itself from the protest action.