Ireland South MEP, Billy Kelleher has stated that an assessment of the income on farm incomes needs to be carried out before new strategies and regulations are imposed.
Kelleher said that some of the approaches in both the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies are “quite radical” and their impact on farm productivity needs to be accounted for.
With the small sizes of farms in Ireland, an average of 32 acres, the Fianna Fáil MEP said he fears that the new measures proposed could put many farms out of business.
“I have always been on the side of science, and coming from a farming background myself, I understand and appreciate the importance of a balanced relationship between farming and nature.”
"Excessive pesticide use is a problem. We need to reduce the requirement for their use, but we need to support farmers in that process. Farmers know better than most about the importance of biodiversity. The EU should use their experience and commitment to enhance biodiversity but that requires working with them and not against them,” he said.
Kelleher stated that there is a “worrying trend emerging”, whereby farmers are seen as “acceptable collateral damage in the climate fight.”
“Without farmers, we have no food. The COVID crisis has highlighted the importance of a fully functioning and reliable food supply chain, of which farmers are the central element. Farmers need to be able to earn a decent living for them to keep doing what they are doing. The EU must recognise this, and respect this fact.”
“I am calling on the Irish government to commission an analysis of these proposals, independent of the EU’s own research, to truly measure how these strategies would affect farm incomes and the rural economy. We must not start down such a radical road with our eyes closed to the potential challenges,” concluded Kelleher.