Danny Healy-Rae has called on An Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture to be honest about their future plans for the national cattle herd, given that agriculture is the backbone of rural Ireland.
He said that the Taoiseach’s “hostile attitude”, when challenged in the Dáil yesterday, “illustrates an arrogant disregard for farmers’ concerns to the government strategy to cap and cull the national cow herd”.
The Rural Independent TD for Kerry said that he had “pressed the Taoiseach to precisely clarify his government’s plans for capping and/or culling the national cattle herd, under the carbon emission targets. He arrogantly failed to answer, instead attempting to mislead the Dáil.”
“Comments made by the Taoiseach in Moorepark on September 17 ruled out any protections for farmers from cutting cattle numbers under climate actions plans. In fact, he went on to confirm that the Government wanted to ‘stabilise the national herd.’ Such vagueness is misleading.
“Ironically, at the same event, the Taoiseach declined to confirm that restrictions on the construction of additional energy gazumping data centres would face similar cuts. It appears that the lobbying power of foreign multinationals garners a greater degree of concern from government than the farming sector,” he said.
“My colleagues and I have been consistently challenging the government on this issue for months. We sought a special derogation under the climate action bill, which would have excluded the farming sector from any emissions’ target reductions. The government refused to support our position, meaning deep emission cuts for farmers.”
“As Ireland’s most important indigenous industry – employing over 164,400 people, incorporating 137,500 farms, and producing over €8 billion in economic output – this sector should be fully insulated from the damaging impact of climate action measures.”
The Kerry TD said that: “the pandemic, Brexit and global geopolitical risks all highlight the risks to food security for our people. However, despite this, the government plan to proceed with a cattle culls and reduce the capacity of the national herd, which will only serve to deepen our reliance on imported beef from South America.”
“This attitude will actually contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions, create food security issues, and push up the cost of food for all Irish people.”
“Speculation now emerging that the agriculture sector faces an emission cut of at least 21 percent, under new government carbon budgets which have yet to be announced, would be disastrous to farmers.”
“It is very unfair to be penalising farmers and forcing them to pay carbon taxes in the absence of an assessment to determine what level of carbon farmers are currently sequestering.”
“Ireland has a long-standing heritage in agriculture and particularly beef farming. Farms are traditionally family-owned, passed from generation to generation, as is the craft and love of livestock farming. The health and welfare of cattle are of utmost importance to farmers, and their concerns should never be dismissed by any government,” concluded Deputy Healy-Rae.