Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action

Reduction of Carbon Emissions of 51% by 2030: Discussion (Resumed)

Mr. Shane Fitzgerald:

I have a quick follow-up. It is important that there is a whole industry approach. It is vital that everyone, including farm organisations, environmentalists, processors and farmers, work together. No one can do this on his or her own; there has to be an integrated approach. That is key. I am fairly active on Twitter – I am not sure if any of the other witnesses are – and noticed a lot of finger-pointing, arguments and blame game. That does not achieve anything and will not move anything forward.

On working together, Mr. Keane touched on the ASSAP programme a number of times. It is a very successful framework for water quality. Dr. Moore mentioned organics and the importance of advice and education in that regard. Biodiversity and habitat creation are also important. Why can ecologists not come onto farms and work closely with farmers? I have not seen that happen in any programmes I have been involved in and have never had an ecologist on my farm. Imagine if ecologists came out to every farm and a small percentage of a farm was allocated for biodiversity and a habitat. Imagine the impact that would have overall. We would not be long meeting our targets. At the moment I do not think ecologists are stepping inside farm gates.

The likes of the BRIDE project will work well and need to be rolled out nationwide. At the moment that has not happened. I have not been on a BRIDE farm yet, but I plan to visit one soon. They receive a lot of funding from the EU and need funding and incentives. An integrated approach is the way forward. That is how things will work. We all need to get on the same wavelength and get people who have expertise onto farms.

Farmers are busy and have many things going on. Young farmers are educated. Those running farms on a day-to-day basis need experts and people who have knowledge of the environment and can tell and show us what to do. We need to be incentivised with supports to do that. If we can do that we will get some positive change sooner rather than later.


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