The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association have outlined major misgivings regarding a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that featured in the national media last weekend. Speaking on this National President Vincent Roddy stated “how this and other reports are undermining the reputation of Irish food and Ireland’s Origin Green credentials. It is, he added, “very difficult to market Irish food as being environmentally sustainable while at the
same time encouraging a cull across our livestock sectors on the premise that this helps address issues around climate change and biodiversity loss.
Beyond the reputational damage such a report may inflict, the INHFA President also questioned the science relating to this and queried if the report is peer reviewed. With regard to the science the INHFA President questioned “if the science relates to secondary research and what level is based on science conducted in Ireland.” This he continued is vital because “we are currently seeing data used by the EU Commission (relating to the Nature Restoration Regulation) on emissions from drained peatlands and the blanket bogs on our uplands that is based on international data from Finland and Canada.”
This scientific data, stressed Roddy, “is not necessarily accurate to Irish farmland where farming systems are very different and we are not dealing with emissions from the thawing of permafrost.” On this basis, it is he maintained “vital that we only act on science conducted in Ireland and we should hold off on making any major decisions until this data is available.”
In discussing other elements of the report Roddy pointed to suggestions that one fifth of our land mass will change use “as extremely problematic not just for farmers but the wider rural economy.” We must, he continued, “recognise the enormous damage that this will inflict on many rural communities who are dependent on the economic activity generated through farming.
When you analyse the land areas that will be most impacted through additional forestry, rewilding or rewetting of farmed peat soils, then it becomes clear that we are looking at an outcome similar to what happened in Scotland through the Highland Clearances over two hundred years ago.”
In concluding Roddy stressed “how this is not just a battle for farmers and called on business, our chambers of commerce and public representatives to engage proactively in protecting our rural communities and our way of life.”