| 3°C Dublin

Minister facing political flatline unless he gets his finger on the pulse

Margaret Donnelly


Minister McConalogue needs to read the room

Minister McConalogue needs to read the room

Minister McConalogue needs to read the room

The term 101 means the basics or an introduction to something. For instance, briefing 101 for agriculture ministers from their senior civil servants and advisors would surely be that farmers are never happy?

However, it would seem Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue hasn’t had that briefing. The minister has spent months traipsing around the country’s marts in what must surely be the most exhausting grand tour imaginable, listening to the views of farmers to help form his CAP strategic plan.

With the CAP plan overlapping with rumours and speculation as to what the Climate Action Plan would mean for farmers and the country’s agricultural sector, it’s hard to fathom how the minister could state over the weekend that there is relief among farmers with the Climate Action Plan.

Did he not hear the farmers in Kanturk say the only thing on earth that can sequester carbon is land and they fear their land is being taken off them, a move likened to what happened in 1650 under Cromwell.

“I think there will be relief among farmers. There had been much speculation....that agriculture might have to be cut by up to 51pc,” he said.

It seems he failed to spot the protest from the forestry industry outside Government buildings last week. The Tánaiste certainly got the ‘farmers are never happy’ memo in recent days when he came out on Friday and called for the ‘climate shaming’ of farmers to stop.

He’s right. Farmers have endured an onslaught of blame for weeks and months now, with very little focus on the role farming has — that no other sector can provide — in helping provide actual solutions.

And when the Government’s Climate Action Plan was launched last week, it provided little solace for farmers who are faced with the biggest challenge and threat to their livelihoods.

I doubt farmers viewed it with relief — many see the pressure on them to change as a potential P45.

Because farmers are not just about farming. They are the backbone of the rural economy and as well as facing challenging climate measures on their farms, they are also facing the pressure of rising energy bills, potentially huge retrofitting costs and unjust transport increases.

And if the minister doesn’t figure that out quickly, he and the current Government face being handed their P45 the next time the ballot boxes are opened.

Farming Newsletter

Get the latest farming news and advice every Tuesday and Thursday.

This field is required

Most Watched