Green Party MEP, Ciarán Cuffe, recently took to the airwaves to confirm that Irish farmers must be allowed to secure sustainable incomes now and into the future.

This intervention, in my opinion, is highly significant, as it seems to put the role of agricultural production centre stage in Green Party thinking. This is the way it should be.

A vibrant farming sector will always underpin every environmental and conservation-related project undertaken in the Irish countryside.

Irish farmers also play a pivotal role where all aspects of rural development are concerned.

GHG emissions

This week has seen the EU row back from a number of its previously confirmed commitments where greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and, more importantly, where future pesticide usage is concerned.

Some commentators are indicating this is a direct result of recent farmer protests across the continent – I take a different perspective on the matter.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that food security will be the biggest challenge facing mankind over the coming decades. If this can be achieved, while reducing GHG emission levels at the same time, all the better.

Ensuring that a global population of some 10 billion people can be fed will be a Herculean task. It will be up to farmers – no one else, to meet this challenge.

Ireland is uniquely placed to produce food of the highest quality. It makes sense that our farmers should be allowed to get on with the job in hand in ways that meet all of the sustainability goals that have been identified by so many groups.

The foundation stone on which all of this can be built, is the financial sustainability that must underpin Irish agriculture in the long-term.

Green Party MEP

If farmers cannot be allowed to make a living; courtesy of the milk, meat, eggs and crops they produce, then Ireland’s entire rural way of life will disintegrate. This is in nobody’s interest.

None of this absolves agriculture’s commitment to reducing the threat posed by climate change.

It was interesting to hear Green Party MEP Ciarán Cuffe expressing the view that all sectors of Irish society and its economy must share this burden in equal manner.

When it comes to addressing the challenge of climate change, farmers must be regarded as part of the solution – not the fundamental problem.