The Expose / Rhoda Wilson
Ireland will need to quadruple its afforestation targets, reduce its livestock by 30% and re-wet 90% of reclaimed land if the agricultural sector is to meet net-zero targets.
Yesterday, the Irish Daily Mail reported that Irish farmers have warned there will be “nothing short of an uprising in rural Ireland” if “vicious” measures are applied to the agriculture sector to meet net-zero targets.
A report commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and paid for by the Departments of Agriculture and the Environment is undergoing final preparation and is scheduled to be published in early March.
If all the changes take place as suggested in the EPA report, 3.1 million acres – or one-fifth of the State’s total land mass – will change in use.
The report, obtained by the Irish Daily Mail under Freedom of Information legislation, found that to meet net-zero emission targets by 2050, the land and agriculture sector must:
- Plant up to 86,500 acres of land for forestry per year, up from the current target of 20,000 acres per annum, bringing the country to a total of 875,000 hectares of land under forestry by 2050;
- Re-wet 90% – or up to 302,000 hectares – of land that is reclaimed from peat lands for agricultural use;
- Reduce by 30% the number of livestock such as cows, goats and sheep;
- Increase by 30% the use of technology in the agricultural sector to reduce methane emissions.
The academic research prepared by the EPA concluded that all of the measures must be implemented if targets are to be met.
Mattie McGrath, leader of the rural Independent members of the lower house of the Irish parliament (known as Teachtai Dála or “TDs”), said the report was a “vicious” strike against rural Ireland. He added that it was a “devastating impact” of the Government’s “radical green policies” on farming. McGrath said: “If these proposals are implemented, rural Ireland will face mass destruction.”
He called for an unequivocal statement from Taoiseach Leo Vradkar and Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue, “assuring us that no reductions in cattle, pigs, goats and sheep will be considered or implemented and that the report will be immediately disregarded and incinerated.”
Meanwhile, Irish farmers are having to stave off going out of business by other means from fending off reforestation projects to financial struggles.
The EU’s proposed Nature Restoration Law would bring in binding targets on member states to “restore degraded ecosystems.” The restoration plans include re-wetting peaty land drained in previous decades to facilitate farming.
Independent Galway/Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice said the proposals would decimate small family farms across the western seaboard. He says it is ironic that the EU provided assistance to farmers to drain much of the land in question but now wants to reverse that work.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (“IFA”) says any implementation of the measures must be voluntary and ensure that there are no knock-on impacts on neighbouring farms. The organisation’s Galway Chair, Stephen Canavan, said: “This is part of the green agenda and part of a stream of European legislation that is coming in. But there is no consultation and that’s a problem with an awful lot of this because it leads to discontent.”
In January, Irish state forestry company Coillte announced it had joined forces with a major foreign investment house to establish a fund to acquire 12,000ha of forests and bare land. This is the first step in Coillte’s strategic vision to act as an agent on behalf of foreign and national investment funds to transition 100,000 ha of Irish farmland out of local farm ownership for afforestation by funds. This venture is being enabled by the Irish taxpayer to the tune of €2.1 billion. In other words, the Irish taxpayer will be paying for the sale of rural Ireland to investment funds.
Two weeks later, the IFA met with Coillte’s CEO and Managing Director to discuss the controversy over Coillte working with a private equity fund to plant forestry in Ireland. “Since forest premium parity was introduced by the Government in 2014, over 40% of the afforestation programme has been undertaken by non-farmers including funds,” IFA Farm Forestry Chair Jason Fleming said.
Fleming added that “the root cause of the problem here is that the Government has provided incentives for non-farmers to get involved in forestry as a quick fix to increase planting rather than addressing the underlying issues which are putting farmers off getting involved.”
In the meeting, Coillte confirmed that they were not working on any further projects with private funds.
While milk prices reached record levels in 2022, the start of 2023 has seen a softening of global market prices for dairy produce. “The processors were slow to pass on returns when the market was rising but have no problem telling farmers that they will drop prices immediately now that the market is softening,” IFA Dairy Chairman Stephen Arthur said.
Input costs remain high, with the latest CSO figures showing that fertiliser prices are 94% higher than 12 months ago while meal is 33% higher. “It is vital that our processors continue to support farmers in this high input environment. Our production costs remain high; therefore, we cannot sustain significant cuts to our milk price this spring,” said the IFA Dairy Chair.
The pig sector is worth about EUR1.5 billion to the Irish economy. Yet producers continue to face very significant financial struggles because processors refuse to increase the price to producers. The current situation is completely unsustainable and threatens the future of the pig industry. IFA National Pigs Committee Chair Roy Gallie said: “Pig farmers work tirelessly to provide high-quality meat, fresh and cured. Considering the 18 months of losses that have built up, the least they should expect is to receive price increases as they arise.”
On Monday, Irish sheep farmers protested to highlight the deepening income crisis on sheep farms. The protest was organised following the latest price cut, which has hit sheep farmers already grappling with severe input costs and slashed margins. Addressing the assembled farmers, IFA President Tim Cullinan called for immediate action from the processors and the Government.
“This is the third time our members have taken action and sounded the alarm bell in as many weeks. Let this Government and the processors be under no illusion; it won’t be the last if support is not forthcoming,” he said.
It seems Irish farmers are being squeezed by two groups: net zero zealots and what the IFA calls “processors.” We know the former – the World Economic Forum/United Nations’ climate change agenda – is a money-making scam. Any action taken to satisfy the UN Sustainable Development Goals has nothing to do with climate, environmentalism or biodiversity – the whole agenda is driven by greed.
As for the latter – the processors – it would be interesting to know which companies these are and who owns them. We recently published an article about a report on the global agrifood sectors. The report revealed that a handful of “Food Barons” are dictating global markets, agricultural research and policy development.
Details of the corporate meatpacking industry begin on page 95 of the report which includes a list of the “Big 10.” It states:
Seven of the Big 10 posted higher food revenues in 2020 compared to pre-pandemic revenues, and even where sales sagged, profits soared. (It was the ranchers and feedlot operators who suffered financially; slaughterhouse workers suffered most – financially and physically.) Despite the pandemic, the biggest meat-exporting countries (i.e. Brazil, U.S., Canada, Russia, European Union countries and Mexico) shipped more meat in 2020 than they had in 2019.
Each of the top 10 meat companies has its own alternative protein line … is developing alt-protein products with collaborators … and/or is investing in alt-protein start-ups.Food Barons 2022, ETC Group, September 2022
As consolidated Big Food was before covid, they used covid to consolidate even more, so that today just a few corporations control most of the world’s food. And lest we forget, the report reminds us that the technocrats do not want family-run farms or agriculture that employs human labour. Their “dream farm” is a “farm of one” where technology does all the work and rakes in the profits.
Ireland, support your farmers. If you don’t, a handful of corporations will be dictating what you eat and their desire is your diet consists of unnatural and unhealthy synthetic foods and insects.
Sources for this article include:
- Govt Preparing to Turn its Back on Rural Ireland, Irish Farmers Association, 13 January 2023
- Coillte Confirm to IFA They’re Not Working on any Further Partnerships with Funds, Irish Farmers Association, 26 January 2023
- Farm groups concerned over plans to re-wet agricultural land, RTE, 6 February 2023
- Milk Processors Must Maximise Milk Price This Spring, Irish Farmers Association, 8 February 2023
- Pig Processors Letting Down Farmers with Static Price, Irish Farmers Association, 10 February 2023
- ‘Worse than Cromwell’ – Ireland must cut livestock numbers by a third, Extra.ie, 11 February 2023
- EPA report calling for 30% cattle cull should be ‘incinerated’ – TD, Irish Farmers Journal, 13 February 2023
- Sheep Farmers in Crisis – IFA Protest Calls on Processors and the Minister to Act, Irish Farmers Association, 13 February 2023
- Climate Targets: Farmers warn of Uprising, Irish Daily Mail, 14 February 2023