Farm Ireland

Friday 23 March 2018

Hogan signals farmers will have to do more for the environment

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Collins Courts
EU Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Collins Courts
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan has given his strongest signal yet that farmers will need to do more environment based actions following the next reform of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP).

Speaking at a conference on the CAP, Hogan said the last reform of the CAP moved the policy in a direction from which I believe there is no turning back.

“The introduction of 'greening' and the increased emphasis on environmental performance was a central element of the 2013 CAP reform,” he said.

According to Hogan, all of us must accept that more needs to be done in terms of the environmental performance of the policy and the frustrations of both those who believe that greening has not gone far enough and those who believe that it places a disproportionate burden on farmers and agricultural production have to be addressed.

“I am the first to acknowledge that the economic viability of the farming sector is a pre-condition not only for production of quality and safe food, but also for the sustainable management of resources (including water) and the provision of environmental public goods.

“Indeed, we are fortunate that we have a whole category of economic operators who looks after the environment for us – farmers, who are our "boots on the ground" to deliver on these goals.

“Thus, in supporting our farmers, we can and must ask them to do more in terms of their contribution to the priorities of this Commission, our international obligations for climate and environment,” he said.

Crucially, though, Hogan also said those farmers deserve to be rewarded, in the same way that other providers of public goods are.

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As an environmental policy, Hogan said the CAP is already making a significant contribution but, in the words of the school report, he also said "it can do better."

“We need to invest more and better in knowledge transfer and innovation in order to produce more from less and to produce better.

“This may include more use of new technologies like precision farming but it can also include the reintroduction of traditional farming techniques in certain areas.

“We need to make good use of research and new technologies. 

“New IT systems, improved breeding, new feedstocks and better use of nutrients or manure treatment can change the way of today's agricultural production towards a well working circular economy.

“Farmers must be placed at the centre of the solutions to these issues and ensure that agricultural activity and environment performance meet,” he said.


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