No farmer will be told to stop farming or reduce herd size in order to meet tough climate change targets, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told a Fine Gael conference on the agriculture and rural Ireland.
He said Ireland would take “reasonable” steps to meet the government’s target of a 51 per cent cut in carbon emissions by 2030.
Mr Varadkar was speaking at a day-long seminar in Tullamore, Co Offaly on Saturday attended by more than 400 party members, including a large number of party ministers, TDs and senators.
Asked at a press conference about recent research which predicted that to meet the 30% sector cut for agriculture, some 50,000 jobs would be lost in agriculture and sector losses would be £4 billion euros a year, he said he didn’t necessarily agree with that. prediction. “The agriculture sector is actually being asked for the lowest reduction of any sector,” he replied.
“No one will be told their car is going to be confiscated. No one will be told their factory is going to close. No foreign investor who wants to invest in Ireland will be told they are not welcome.
“No farmer will be told to stop farming or reduce the number of cattle or animals they own. So you know what I really want to say to people as a message of reassurance, we’re going to set goals and we’ll do whatever we can to achieve whatever makes sense.
“But (we won’t) as it would lead to a reduction in the food we produce. It will make no sense in a world where there are people who need to be fed every day,” he said.
During the day-long seminar there were sessions on markets, security, climate action and new economic opportunities for rural Ireland, with discussions exploring micro-generation, solar farming as well as carbon farming.
Mr Varadkar said it is the responsibility of society to ensure that we can have farmers with better incomes and more stable incomes.
“The best way to achieve this is to allow farmers to have several sources of income. They include carbon farming, as many industries would be willing to pay farmers to offset carbon.
“And then there is microgeneration which offers huge opportunities to give farmers a stable source of additional income.
“Farmers tell me they want to do this, they want to get into micro-generation, they want to put solar panels on the roofs and they want the government to facilitate this. For this, it is essential to put in place a tariff or a minimum payment that makes this viable for the farmers so that there is a return on investment for them.
Proposed regulations to ban the commercial sale of turf from September stormed the ranks of coalition partners Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael last month, with ministers and backbench MPs expressing anger over to this decision.
Asked about the turf problem, he said it was not solved yet. Mr Varadkar said there was a need to reduce the number of pollutants in the air in rural Ireland as well as in urban areas.
That said, he added that it was necessary to find a compromise solution.
“We are clear as a party that people who have the right to cut grass will be protected, there is no doubt about it, as well as people who have traditionally given grass to neighbors and friends, or even sold grass. small-scale grass in their communities.
He said turf distribution like this was really happening on a ‘de minimis’ level and was not really the cause of air pollution. “We just have to get it right and don’t want a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”