Farmers must be given the tools and not just demonised for simply trying to make a living, an Irish MEP has said.

Sean Kelly made the comments during a discussion he convened in the European Parliament this week on the role of pollinators in protecting nature.

The event brought together stakeholders and experts to shed light on the legislative landscape affecting pollinators and the overall health of our lands.

Among those in attendance were Dr. Josef Settele, a professor of ecology, Sean O’Farrell, a farmer from Co. Tipperary and Fintan Kelly of the Irish Environmental Network.


In his welcoming address, Sean Kelly pointed to the universal agreement on the need to protect pollinators.

The Ireland South MEP stressed the importance of taking substantiated actions to reverse the global trend of declining populations of species such as bees and butterflies.

He said that this is needed to secure a sustainable future for both the environment and the agricultural sector.

“From the farmers and other stakeholders I speak to, this threat is taken seriously, but we need evidence-based actions to be implemented to reverse this trend and ensure a future for both our environment and our vital agricultural sector,” Kelly said.

World bee day

The MEP, who launched his “Bee Better” campaign last year, also highlighted the economic implications of pollinator decline.

“Crop pollination in Europe contributes nearly €15 billion annually to crop production, and in Ireland, animal pollination is estimated to be worth up to €59 million per year for home-produced food crops,” he said.

Kelly urged for a shift in perspective when it comes to the broader narrative on climate and agriculture.

“The situation we are in now is that farmers feel their voice and interests are being downplayed.

“The reality is that they can be drivers of positive biodiversity and climate change actions.

“For example, by embracing renewable energy sources and ensuring a functional carbon farming market will provide economic incentives to improve soil quality and sequester carbon,” he said.