SPEAKING after a constructive meeting with the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan last week IFA President John Bryan welcomed the Minister’s recognition of the importance of the agri-food sector, and his commitment not to undermine the significant potential of the sector by the imposition of excessive environmental restrictions and costs.
Mr Bryan led an IFA delegation to meet Minister Hogan at Leinster House, where he set out the role of the sector in the country’s economic recovery.
“Our sustainable, low-carbon model of food production must be fully recognised when environmental legislation is drawn up. The export growth and expansion targets set out in Food Harvest 2020 cannot be thrown off course by regulatory burdens that impose extra costs on farmers.
“Farmers have made a significant investment of over €2bn through the Farm Waste Management Scheme, which is having a positive impact on the environment and water quality. This must be taken into consideration as part of any review of regulations.”
The IFA President said, “The Government’s approach to climate change negotiations must ensure that our grass-based system receives the credit for operating in an emission-efficient way. IFA has consistently made the point that displacing European food production with high-carbon imports from South America would be counterproductive. Minister Hogan’s commitment to greater dialogue in advance of any future proposals is an essential element in reaching an outcome that safeguards the growth opportunities in the agri-food sector.”
IFA National Environment & Rural Affairs Chairman Pat Farrell said he was strongly opposed to any new legislation on septic tanks that would impose additional costs on rural households, and that would prevent farm families from living in the countryside. “Minister Hogan said that local authorities will be able to work within existing resources to minimise the level of bureaucracy and he will bring forward a set of proposals that would limit the impact on rural dwellers.”