17 Jan 2022

Tipperary TD and farmer says climate action must be economically and environmentally sustainable

Tipperary TD and farmer says climate action must be economically and environmentally sustainable

Deputy Jackie Cahill: ‘Less cows on Irish land means less trees in the Amazon as more and more land is cleared for production’

Following the most recent publication of a consultation paper on the use of nitrates on Irish farms, Fianna Fáil TD. for Tipperary, Jackie Cahill has reiterated his strongly held views that all environmental measures adopted to tackle the climate crises and curb Irish carbon emissions must be both environmentally and economically sustainable.

The chair of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee said: “Irish farmers are proudly the most sustainable producers of dairy on the planet. We do it better than anyone else. We produce high-quality, green and highly-nourishing dairy products more efficiently than any of our counterparts around the world. We, as a nation, should be very proud of this.”

The Thurles TD said that there was one sky and one atmosphere over all of us, and the climate crisis was affecting every country in different ways.

“There is no point in denying this and I have never denied this. However, to suggest that we should adopt short-sighted policies such as cutting the national herd here in Ireland will do far more harm to our world’s climate and atmosphere that it would good,” he said.

He said that carbon leakage was a real and present danger that environmentalists seemed happy to ignore.

“But I won’t bury my head in the sand on this issue. If we dramatically cut production in Ireland, where we do it more sustainably than any other country, all we will see is production increasing in other countries. Less cows on Irish land means less trees in the Amazon as more and more land is cleared for large-scale production with far less efficiency than here in Ireland,” he maintained.

The Fianna Fáil TD said that he was of the view that a long-sighted, just approach was required in this transition to a more sustainable future for all.

All policies must be both environmentally and economically sustainable, he said.

“Otherwise it is rural Ireland that will lose out, as agriculture remains the backbone and driving force of our rural economy,” said Deputy Cahill.

He urged that we look to new technologies to help reduce carbon emissions and in his view, there was not even nearly enough investment going into these areas.

He said that there were modern technologies that can effectively treat slurry and turn it into biogases and organic fertilisers. There are also advances in chemical fertilisers and all of this will help reduce our emissions, but he did not see enough support for these from the environmentalists’ side of the argument.

“This is what long-term thinking and planning must look like. It is nonsensical the reluctance we are seeing to investigate and invest in these new products that are proven to reduce emissions coming from our farms,” he said.

Deputy Cahill pointed out that there were 860 million people around the world today who were starving, and a further two billion with inadequate diets.

“Some environmentalists have claimed that we do not have a moral obligation to feed to world’s population. Yet, we can produce enough food on our little island to feed 60 million people annually. I fundamentally believe we do have a moral obligation to feed the world,” he said.

“We do it better than anyone else. We have the weather, the land, the generations of perfecting our trade. We now need the support in adopting long-term, climate friendly practices that support farmers and the planet, and we need to stop playing one side against the other,” Deputy Cahill said.

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