The need for farmers to be aware of the scientific facts in relation to the climate change debate was highlighted at the January meeting of the Co. Donegal Executive of the IFA.
Responding to remarks from one delegate about the way the farming sector is being portrayed in some media reports, Tom Phelan, IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman, agreed that the IFA has a role to play.
“There is a responsibility on the IFA to make farmers aware of what the issues are when they are questioned,” he said. “We need to equip our members to enable them to have conversation with their neighbour and to have the simple facts.”
One of the delegates expressed frustration at the way farmers are being portrayed in some parts of the media, and how there appears to be a lack of balance in discussions on environmental issues and the part farmers play.
Indeed, there was also criticism of the IFA. In response, Mr. Phelan accepted that more could be done, and said that the association was failing "to inform our own membership about what the IFA is doing and what the scientific facts are out there."
Meanwhile, the IFA is hosting an event in Dublin next Tuesday, January 21, called “Climate Action in Agriculture - A Balanced Approach.”
One of the foremost experts in the world on the important role of farming in the climate debate, Dr. Frank Mitloehner, University of California, Davis, will be the guest speaker.
Other scheduled speakers will include Prof. John Fitzgerald, Chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council, and Dr. Frank O’Mara of Teagasc.
Speaking in advance of the event, IFA President, Joe Healy said, “Farmers are tired of being kicked around and scapegoated when it comes to climate action”.
“The lack of balance in the debate is very frustrating for Irish farmers, given the high standards we adhere to and the quality of the food we produce. For example, 90% of Ireland’s beef exports are now in an audit and carbon foot printing programme and 100% of milk production is completing a carbon auditing cycle. This is unique – we are the only country in the world that measures, monitors and manages carbon from farm to fork. Yet we are constantly being pilloried for not doing enough.”
The IFA President added: “We hope that this event will help in re-balancing what is currently a very one-sided debate.”
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