Minister: ‘We run the risk of push-back from farmers’

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has warned that there is a risk of “push-back” from farmers on the issue of climate change mitigation if they are simply “told what they must do” rather than being listened to.

Speaking today, Wednesday, October 16, at a policy debate on Ireland’s future agricultural strategy to 2030 (the successor to Food Wise 2025), Minister Creed said that he was “concerned” over the reaction of the farming community to increased environmental measures, particularly in light of continued protests in the Netherlands over nitrates regulations.

“Everybody now today is telling farmers what they should do. It seems to me that almost 450 million consumers across the EU have an opinion on how farmers should conduct their businesses,” the minister argued.

I am, I have to say, somewhat concerned at the risk we run of a push-back from the farming community.

The minister commented: “We need to read the tea leaves in that regard.”

He went on: “Of course farmers have to be responsive and aware of what consumer concerns are about, but there is a risk that – if we don’t include and embrace farmers as part of the solution and not the problem – we run the risk of push-back.”

Minister Creed stated his belief that this concern was not isolated to Ireland.

The Dutch farmers are out protesting. I sense, from talking to colleagues across Europe, that this unease is everywhere, and we need to acknowledge that farmers are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

“We need to acknowledge that, when you produce food, you produce greenhouse gases. It’s an inevitable consequence,” he highlighted.

The minister stressed that climate mitigation measures must be taken, and that there would be scope to do that under the changes set to be made to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

“But if we think that we can just tell farmers what they must do, without listening to them, I think there’s a real danger of push-back, and we need to be very, very conscious of that,” he warned.

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