WEST Cork farmers are facing a ‘potentially devastating’ future if they try to implement the proposed 25% decrease in agri-emissions by 2030, according to local farmers and farming groups.
‘Farmers are very nervous and concerned,’ Donal O’Donovan, West Cork chair of the IFA, told The Southern Star.
‘Any cull of animals would be devastating to farming families, no expansion could take place, and this would leave farmers with a very unsure future,’ he predicted.
Another West Cork farmer, Harold Kingston, who is also the Munster IFA chair, feels that without more details, farmers are left with just more questions and even more concerns.
‘The devil is in the lack of detail,’ the Barryroe-based dairy farmer said.
‘Where are the plans to support farmers with other sustainable income sources?’
The agreement has left many farmers deeply worried and is leading to extreme concern in rural Ireland, said West Cork’s Independent TD Michael Collins.
‘Common sense is telling me that there will be a cull. This is a full-frontal attack on the rural way of life by this government, dressed up in glossy climate change lingo and without any consultation. It is callous and cruel,’ Deputy Collins said.
Another West Cork farmer, Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard hopes that a cull will not be necessary.
‘I hope we don’t have to go down the route of a voluntary or mandatory cull, as food security is a priority now, and will be into the future too,’ Senator Lombard said.
Carbery Group chief executive Jason Hawkins said he can also see challenges ahead for the agri sector when it comes to reducing emissions by 25%.
The agri group has been a forerunner in promoting sustainability in farming, with its Farm Zero C project.
‘Irish dairy farmers, and particularly Carbery suppliers, have been focusing on sustainable farming for a decade or more,’ Jason Hawkins told The Southern Star.
‘That being said, even with this longstanding commitment to sustainable farming, 25% is an extremely ambitious target to achieve, while ensuring we can maintain dairy farming as economically viable and sustainable into the future.’
The Carbery boss said our farmers have the knowledge and know what needs to be done to transition, but they are also business people, earning a living and supporting families. ‘Therefore, the detail in terms of the supports that will be offered to support this transition will be crucial, and needs to be tangible,’ he added.
This week West Cork Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns said the Government’s emissions reduction plan must assist all farmers – not just the big players. ‘The plans must support small family farms in West Cork, using a just transition approach,’ she said.