Green wave: farmers in firing line of climate policy


EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Reuters
EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Reuters

Ciaran Moran and Margaret Donnelly

Farmers face increased climate action pressure from the Government and EU in the wake of the European elections.

The Government has already signalled it will seek to embrace the Green Party's environment agenda.

And greater reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is expected to follow the surge of Green support which swept the continent in the European elections.

The Greens are expected to look for a reduction in cattle numbers, more actions to improve biodiversity and increased afforestation as part of its political agenda.

Further gains from Green candidates in Europe will see greater pressure to reform the CAP with more focus on the environment.

EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, warned yesterday that farmers needed to be prepared for a "great leap forward" on climate action.

"I would tell farmers not to be frightened by the initiatives to ­combat climate change but to engage with them," he told the Irish Rural Link annual conference in Athlone.

Mr Hogan added that engagement with EU and Government climate action measures will result in enhanced income opportunities for farmers. "In the climate debate, rural areas are increasingly viewed as holding massive potential to provide solutions to the climate crisis," he said.

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"This is both correct and overdue. The reality is that we need to do more, and we need to do it faster."

Mandatory actions

Mr Hogan cited a study released by the European Commission yesterday that confirms that policy structures like CAP have improved their climate performance significantly.

He said that in his plans for a reformed CAP, farmers and rural communities will be rewarded for their climate action.

"A variety of mandatory and voluntary schemes and funds will be in place. The proper incentives need to be on offer if they (farmers) are to do this work on behalf of society as a whole," Mr Hogan told delegates.

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