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26/09/2021

MEP hails sustainable Donegal uplands farming project

MEP visit to Redcastle

MEP Chris McManus has hailed the work of a Donegal farming project

A Donegal farming project has been hailed for its innovation.

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus, a member of the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee, recently visited the Inishowen Uplands European Innovation Partnership.

Mr MacManus commented: “My visit to the project’s demonstration farm in Redcastle served as an important reminder that Ireland will not meet its environmental objectives without the help of our farmers. 

"This is about farmers taking the initiative and showing how their experience can help Ireland lead the way in the climate transition. I want to commend the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association and everyone involved in this innovative project.

“The land of Inishowen, although spectacular, is not ideal for large-scale food production operations. However, the rich landscapes provide numerous opportunities for the delivery of public environmental goods.

“Taking for example the abundance of blanket bog, conservation and maintenance of this rare ecosystem could be an activity farmers are paid to do.

"Fairly remunerating farmers for carrying out environmental actions will help us deliver on improved biodiversity, water quality and climate change, while also ensuring a livelihood for the next generation of farmers.

“The types of sustainable experiments and practices being carried out include varied grazing regimes, which do not lead to soil erosion, water filtration through hedgerows and trees, looking at alternatives to reduce nitrogen fertilisers and the introduction of clover and diverse swards for grazing."

On the visit Mr MacManus outlined his party’s commitment to such projects but highlighted the importance of supports at both a national and EU level.

He said: “Sinn Féin supports Irish agriculture transitioning to not only curtail any harmful impacts but actually becoming a net contributor to our environmental goals. It is not as simple as reducing production; this will only be replaced by carbon heavy imports from countries like Brazil.

“The strategy must be about rewarding our farmers formaking their food production process more sustainable and for devoting time to environmental renewal on their land. 

"This pilot project in Redcastle is an excellent example of what can be achieved with innovative thinking. It must be noted that this certainly won’t be possible if national governments continue to stand over persistent cuts to the CAP budget.

“I would encourage more people to visit the project, as we urgently need to counter those who narrowly believe it is a black and white choice between producing food and protecting the environment.”

 The Midlands Northwest MEP concluded by calling on government to implement improvement measures.

“Sinn Féin is calling on the Irish Government to ensure the new pillar I eco-schemes are straightforward, profitable and have an impact.

"Rural Ireland needs new ideas to ensure its economic survival and Sinn Féin is currently the only party taking this challenge seriously," he said.

The project is funded by the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) under the Rural Development Programme. 

Mr MacManus was accompanied by Donegal TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and local councillors Terry Crossan and Albert Doherty.

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