‘Farmers’ relationships with environmental lobby groups need to be built upon’

Farmers’ relationships with environmental lobby groups need to be built upon in the future, according to Macra na Feirme National President Sean Finan.

Finan was speaking at the launch of Macra’s report on the findings from its consultation process on CAP 2020.

“It is very clear from the feedback, received from our young farmers, that we need to build a relationship between environmental lobby groups and farmers.

“Ultimately farmers are the custodians of the countryside.

Sometimes there is friction between farmers and environmental lobby groups; but it’s about an acknowledgement from both sides as to where we’re going and working closer together.

Meanwhile, some groups work better alongside farmers than others, the Vice Chair of Macra’s Agricultural Affairs Committee, Thomas Duffy, said.

“What we will do moving forward is find common ground with these environment NGOs (Non-Government Organisations) who want to work with farmers.

“They have been dedicated to the idea of rural protection and protecting the the rural environment for different reasons than ours.

“Ours are focused on young farmers, while their’s might be focused on things like high-nature value farming,” Duffy said.

Environmental Challenges

Macra believes young farmers can play a pivotal role in mitigating climate change and protecting the environment, whilst fulfilling the EU food security needs.

As part of its CAP 2020 survey, 56% of Macra members surveyed indicated they would be willing to assign 1ha of land towards agri-forestry.

This further highlights young farmers’ commitments to the environment, according to Macra.

The current greening measures included in the CAP, whilst potentially beneficial in other EU Member States, have no real beneficial environmental impacts in Ireland, it added.

As part of its consultation findings report, Macra also proposed that 30% of the budget for direct payments would be paid to farmers based on the achievement of climate change and environmental measures.

It is hoped that the ‘superior nature’ of results-based payments could reduce any possible friction between environmentalists and farmers.