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Dear Farmer, we’re on your side: climate activists go to bat for farming


Extinction Rebellion activists start new social media campaign

Extinction Rebellion activists start new social media campaign

Extinction Rebellion activists start new social media campaign

CLIMATE activists are going out to bat for farmers at a protest calling for a just transition for agriculture.

Extinction Rebellion members will take their demands to the Department of Agriculture on Friday where they are determined to show farmers, and the wider public, that they are on the same side.

In a ‘Dear Farmer’ social media campaign, the organisation writes an open letter to farmers saying the apparent divisions between them are false.

“We’re constantly being told there’s bad blood between farmers and environmentalists. We don’t believe this to be true,” they say.

They write: “Dear Farmers, we need your help.”

Their message stresses the problems with the current agricultural system which pushes farmers into more intensive production for diminishing returns while damaging the environment and fuelling climate change.

“If you are a beef farmer, you are probably surviving on subsidies and have a second off-the-farm job,” the letter says.

“If you are a dairy farmer, you probably have double the herd your parents did, but you are earning half the money.

“A very small percentage do very well out of the current food system while everyone else struggles. The system is broken.”

The campaign comes in a week when greenhouse gas emissions forecasts show Ireland has a mountain to climb to hit existing emission reduction targets while due to enact climate legislation that will double the challenge.

Agriculture is by far the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas in Ireland, accounting for more than a third of total emissions.

While the Government has said the sector will not face the same severe emissions cuts that will be demanded from industry, energy producers and society at large, farming organisations and some rural politicians have been vocal in opposing the prospect of any substantial cuts.

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Laura Burke, director general of the Environmental Protection Agency, told the agency’s annual climate change conference on Wednesday that agricultural emissions must fall.

But she expressed concern about how the challenges facing farmers were being debated.

“What we are seeing is growing polarisation of views about Ireland’s agriculture and land management future,” she said.

She hit out at the Common Agricultural Policy’s failure to reward farming practices that were compatible with climate action.

“The current model of subsidies or payments to farmers does not adequately support the addressing of environmental issues,” she said.

Climate Action Minister Eamon Ryan echoed those views.

“It has been probably the most challenging one politically because the message has always been farmers versus the environment and environmentalists versus the farmer. That, more than anything else, has to change,” he said.

Extinction Rebellion say in their letter they will be protesting on Friday about CAP’s unfair treatment of farmers.

“Environmentalists and farmers need to campaign together to bring about a system where farmers are rewarded a decent living wage for stewarding the land in nature’s best interest,” they say.

The Irish Farmers Association did not directly reply to queries about the campaign but responded saying: “Our president, Tim Cullinan, will be in Brussels on Friday where he will join other farm leaders from across Europe in a protest.”

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