'Carrot and stick' approach needed on farm emissions
BASING green targets on CAP payments rather than a carbon tax is key to getting the balance between agriculture and the environment right, according to a new report.
The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture report on climate change and farming recommended that environmental measures are linked to CAP payments or financial incentives rather than imposing a carbon tax on farmers.
Chair of the committee, Fine Gael's Pat Deering, told the Farming Independent that a "carrot and stick approach" to farming and the environment would be more successful rather than imposing a carbon tax, as recommended by the Citizens' Assembly in November last year.
"We were conscious of the Citizens' Assembly vote but we felt there was not enough evidence gathered from the Citizens' Assembly to give a true picture of Irish agriculture. Teagasc made no submission, so there wasn't a full contribution from the agriculture sector," he said.
"We favour a more carrot and stick approach than taxation. Taxing has never been successful.
"Linking CAP payments to the environment is possibly the way forward. Taxing would be totally opposed across all parties."
A key recommendation of the report stated that a communication strategy be developed which would highlight the efficiency of the Irish beef and dairy sectors to the general public.
Fine Gael Senator Michelle Mulherin said this would give a "fairer picture" of the measures farmers are doing to reduce their impact and added that the Citizens' Assembly vote in favour of a carbon tax "was a crude instrument that didn't reflect the predicament that farmers are in".
"Farmers feed the nation and in many ways Ireland is the food basket of Europe and we need food. Farmers are out there at the coal face dealing with the fall out of climate change every day," she said.
Other recommendations in the report include undertaking an immediate impact assessment of the climate change targets in Food Wise 2025 and ensuring that no forestry scheme should focus on planting a single type of tree.
The IFA welcomed the report, and its environment chair Thomas Cooney stressed that "it is now time for the Government to take action and implement the plan".
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