Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Compliance with the Nitrates Directive and Implications for Ireland: Discussion (Resumed)

Mr. Sean McNamara:

Deputy Healy-Rae talked about young farmers going back to farming. I have a young lad farming with me. We have their enterprise on our farm. There is no viable labour for any young farmer or farmer anymore. We can forget about this and talk about what we like. We can talk about nature restoration, nitrates and what we like. However, in a very short time we will see the big problem is food security. That will be a big problem. It is because of the simple reason that we will lose a generation of farmers. That is for certain. We will definitely lose it.

I have been out in Europe. I was listening to Deputy Fitzmaurice talking about going to Europe. I was out in Europe. One crowd is talking about food security and another crowd is talking about cutting back in numbers. We see what is going on in England now with sheep. We see what food security can do. The Houthis are bombing ships in the Suez Canal. The New Zealand lamb cannot come into England. What happens? Lamb has gone up to €8.20/kg or €8.30/kg in England, which has not been seen in years. That proves the point that food security is a serious issue. We could talk away for days and days about all this and about how farmers should do this, that and the other. However, the main thing we need to look at is food security.