Poker chips

Farm income is not poker chips to gamble with, says Offaly TD

Government parties are treating the agricultural sector and farm incomes as if they were poker chips on the gambling table. That’s according to Laois Offaly’s independent TD Carol Nolan.

MP Nolan described the ongoing negotiations between government parties on the issue of legally binding emissions targets as “highly contentious”, adding: “It is now clear that the primary focus is less on how to secure the future of Irish agriculture than how to prevent the government from being brought down by a radical green scheme.

The independent TD said serious questions are also emerging regarding the compatibility of emissions targets for agriculture and the need to maintain a strong national food security policy:

“Today and over the weekend we have reports of serious rows between government parties over the emissions reduction target that will emerge. As a general rule, for members of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, it’s about saying in private what they don’t have the nerve to say in public; that demand for anything at or even close to 22% will create massive levels of destabilization within the sector.

“I accept that there are some opposing voices within Fianna Fail and Fine Gael and that they are finally waking up from their slumber to where these unrealistic levels of green ambition have taken us. But overall, I attribute this to the realization that rural independent TDs like me have proven themselves correct about the detached and illusory nature of the goals that are set.

“I know from my own questions to Minister McConalogue that he created the National Forage and Food Security Committee led by Teagasc and tasked it with preparing an industry response to the emerging feed crisis animals, fodder, fertilizer and other inputs, and develop contingency plans and advice to help farmers run their farm businesses. But what will be the point of this worthwhile initiative if our government is sabotaging farm incomes? and agriculture of the interior?

“It’s time to get real. The emissions debate should be about what is practical, achievable and sustainable. It cannot be about forcing the square of Irish agriculture into the round hole of a radical emissions target and to hell with the cost to people’s livelihoods or lifestyles. There are bigger issues here than keeping the cabinet and back seats warm,” Deputy Nolan concluded.