Report from the Agri-Environment Office

1st April 2014
News Item

It has been another interesting month in the world of Irish agriculture and An Taisce have been in the thick of it. We have been working hard to communicate the environmental implications of the government’s Food Harvest 2020 plan and are in the midst of making a proposal to government on below cost selling.

Most noteworthy was James Nix’s appearance on Prime Time where he debated with Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, on the pros and cons of FH2020. James got some strong points across including the inevitable increase in GHG emissions, the continuation of a debt based farming model, in which farmers are required to use their property as collateral, and the vulnerability that will come with an increased dairy herd. Despite the disagreements between An Taisce and the Department of Food Agriculture and the Marine it was an excellent opportunity to engage directly with the Minister on a national platform.

James Nix and Jack McCarthy were invited by Dr. Cara Augustenborg to deliver a lecture to UCD MSc. students on the contradictions between Food Harvest 2020 and achieving Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas reduction goals. Meaningful engagement took place between James, Jack, and the students in attendance. The lecture aimed to dismantle the justifications of what is, ultimately, a climatically irresponsible programme. The students gave many valuable suggestions. The aim now is to develop the presentation to bring to a wider audience.

Finally, An Taisce have been making some ripples in the media with a press release that calls on the government to legislate for retailers to display the price paid to farmers for certain produce, or a Primary Produce Amount. The proposed legislation would see the big five (Dunnes, Supervalu/centra, Tesco, Lidl, and Aldi) required to display the price paid to farmers next to the sales price. We believe that this will contribute to increasing consumer awareness and ultimately a better price for farmers producing fruit, vegetables and other products. The pre-Christmas price wars have shown that there is appetite for such a change.

Links

http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/10277792/ Prime Time debate

http://www.antaisce.org/WhatsNow/News/AnTaisceamp;RelatedNewsReleases/tabid/262/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/1333/Legislate-for-large-retailers-to-display-the-amount-they-pay-to-farmers.aspx - Press release on Primary Producer Amount