The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association President, Patrick Kent, has welcomed the news of a new anti-fracking bill in Ireland.
The bill which has now passed all stages of the Dáil will be Implemented in Ireland sooner rather than later. Mr Kent said of the news “Fracking offers no tangible benefits to landowners or rural communities. It provides no upside for farmers but potentially a lot of downside in terms of our clean, green food image. Instead, we need the Government to strongly favour renewable energy sources which can bring multiple benefits to farmers, the environment and to rural communities while also helping the economy and climate change objectives.”
Patrick Kent was also keen to point out the dangers affecting agriculture and the food sector, he said “Food production is very vulnerable at present particularly since the Brexit vote and in light of the need for a revision of the targets to expand agri-food exports to €19 billion set out in Food Wise 2025 given that livestock, cereals, dairy are all struggling to find sufficient markets that can pay a viable price. Countries and regions where there are multiple uses for agricultural land are standing out as places where farmers see hope for the future. We cannot allow agriculture in Europe to be a one trick pony dependent on greedy retailers. Nor can we assume that faraway international markets will be the panacea for all ills.”
He called on the government to look to renewable energies to help the industry, and called for the construction of solar farms in the country, “In practical terms, this means Government support for sustainable biofuels across Europe, anaerobic digestion in Ireland and sensible policies to give certainty to plans for solar farms. There is a compelling case to support the use of biofuels from crops grown in Europe which also provide very positive benefits in terms of animal feeds as a by-product.”
Mr. Kent also stated that the ICSA will push for advancements in these areas, saying that renewables could help shape the future of the agriculture industry, “ICSA is fighting for a smart approach to agriculture policy which provides farmers with multiple income sources including benefitting from renewables which could transform the outlook for farmers and rural communities which is going to need strong political leadership at national and EU level,”.
The Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Prohibition of Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing) Bill 2016 will now face the Seanad for examination, after which it will become law providing it is passed through.