Belfast Telegraph

Climate shaming of farmers needs to stop, Taoiseach says

Leo Varadkar said farmers should be part of the solution rather than being targeted.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar attends the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association AGM (Brian Lawless/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar attends the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association AGM (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Aine McMahon PA

Leo Vardakar has called for an end to the “climate shaming” of farmers and said that they need to be paid more for their produce.

The Taoiseach was speaking at the annual general meeting of farming organisation the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association in Co Limerick on Friday.

Mr Varadkar said the fact that beef prices in the Republic of Ireland are lower than the EU and the UK needs to be addressed.

“It is only reasonable that the factory gate prices go up in the weeks ahead,” he said.

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Leo Varadkar speaks at the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association AGM (Brian Lawless/PA)

Addressing environmental issues, Mr Varadkar said he wants farmers to be part of the solution regarding climate action, “rather than being targeted as part of the problem”.

“We can do this by incentivising, encouraging and remunerating farmers and industry to reduce emissions, produce green energy and promote biodiversity.

“I very much believe, and I very much want farmers to be part of the solution when it comes to climate change and climate action, rather than being targeted as part of the problem as you so often are,” he said.

“It’s my belief that the climate shaming of farmers should stop. It should stop now. But it’s through visible, effective climate action by farmers, supported by governments, that we can make sure that it stops,” he said.

He said the challenges Ireland faces regarding climate change should be seen as an opportunity rather than a catastrophe.

“I think we’ll all acknowledge that climate change is an enormous issue and one that is a real concern to our citizens.

“What I want to do is turn what is a potential catastrophe into an opportunity.

“We should acknowledge that climate action isn’t just about reducing greenhouse gases. It’s about doing some really good things too.

“It’s about making our air cleaner and our homes warmer. It’s about less pollution.  It’s also about creating new jobs, new wealth and new businesses for the future.

“Just think about what we could achieve with all the money we would save, if we didn’t spend billions of euros every year importing oil and gas and we used our own energy instead.”

Mr Varadkar one of his top priorities is reform of the  Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the years ahead in a way that benefits Ireland.

“We’re very busy forming alliances with like-minded countries across the European Union, not just traditional allies when it comes to agriculture, like France, but also those around the Mediterranean, central and eastern Europe as well, and Belgium.

“Our mission is to ensure that sector can continue to produce high quality safe and traceable food while protecting and enhancing the environments and upholding animal welfare.

“My message today is that the Government will continue to prioritise CAP budgets in those negotiations. They really just started and they’re going to get going around February,” he said.

PA

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