ANY CHANGES to emissions in the agricultural sector for individual farmers will be entirely voluntary, said Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan, in response to recent claims which he said are “not accurate”.
“As part of the Government’s examination on the emissions targets for sectors, as a Fine Gael TD I insisted that individual farmers would be allowed to voluntarily enter any schemes that will be designed by the Department of Agriculture in the environmental areas, and that there would be no blanket conditions.
This was important for me, because I believe as with previous agri-environment schemes such as REPS, more will be achieved with a voluntary package of measures,” said Mr O’Donovan in a statement to Farm Leader.
“Another point I made very strongly was that Ireland continues to be allowed to be a food island, producing high quality and traceable food, instead of shifting food production to less environmentally friendly nations, who in some cases clear huge amounts of forest every day to expand their sectors.
Under this package that we in Fine Gael have insisted on, Ireland will continue to be a world leader in food production, and from a Limerick point of view that includes beef and dairy, with no compulsion on farmers,” he continued.
Mr O’Donovan said the focus of the Department of Agriculture will now be to develop packages under agri-environmental schemes which each farmer can look at with Teagasc or their agricultural advisor.
This part of the process will also include discussions with farm organisations, he said.“But as for some people, never let the truth get in the way of a good story. When you run away from going into Government because you might have to make tough choices, it makes the cheap seats of opposition very comfortable. I know for some opposition politicians, it suits them, as usual, to portray this plan in the way they normally talk about everything. But what’s their plan? Where are their proposals?
“How would they fund anything they might actually suggest? I have never yet heard them volunteer one practical and costed proposal on anything since this Government was formed. But I have heard a lot of roaring and shouting. The reality is you cannot run a country on a diet of roaring and shouting, and from the many farmers that I have spoken to in the last fortnight that is very clear,” said Mr O’Donovan.
Regarding claims that there was no engagement by the minister for agriculture or the department, Mr O’Donovan said the minister travelled the country not that long ago meeting farmers.
“Some of the politicians that claimed he hadn’t engaged were at those very meetings, and he and the department continuously speak to the main farming organisations,” he said.