This year’s National Ploughing Championships is an opportunity to showcase green technologies and change the “lazy narrative” around Irish farming and climate change, MEP Colm Markey has said.

The Fine Gael Midlands North-West MEP, who will be in Ratheniska, Co. Laois for the event this week, said farmers don’t get enough credit for their efforts to embrace change and help drive down emissions.

Speaking ahead of the Ploughing, which has opened its door today (Tuesday, September 20), Markey said agriculture is the only sector that has been at the centre of fierce debate around emission reduction targets.

The MEP, who is also a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture, said there will be a lot to discuss with stakeholders at this year’s Ploughing.

“Earlier this year, the farming community was unfairly labelled as being reluctant to change which couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said.

“Right around the country, farmers are embracing new technologies and are willing to go further to make agriculture even more sustainable in the years ahead.

“This year’s Ploughing is an opportunity to show the country that farmers are not the problem, but part of the solution,” the MEP said.

Despite the “challenging” emissions reduction target of 25% for agriculture as announced by government in July 2022, Markey said the agriculture sector is the only one with a roadmap to deliver on the target, which “cannot be said for other sectors”.

A technological revolution is already happening in the agriculture sector, which, along with further innovations, the MEP believes will help deliver on Ireland’s climate goals.

“If we engage now and be proactive, we can look back in eight years’ time knowing we took our responsibilities seriously and achieved on our mission,” he said.

“It’s been three years since we last got together for an event like this and a lot has happened in that time. The impact of Brexit, Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine has all been a major challenge for farmers – with soaring prices for feed, fertiliser and fuel now another huge concern.

“This week, I will be engaging with stakeholders on the ground to see what more can be done at both Irish and European level to address these difficulties in the months ahead.”