National review of peatland and farm land use promised
Under the deal agreed by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party on Monday, the next government would commit to ensuring greater transparency in the beef industry supply chain. This follows sustained protests and criticism levelled at meat producers from farmers.
The parties agreed to carry out an “economic and sustainability assessment” of the Mercosur trade deal between the EU and four South American countries which was opposed by some Irish farmers.
This assessment would inform the government’s “future action”, the document statss.
Agriculture policy proposals in the programme include exploring the potential market for crops such as hemp, and to review the potential domestic and international markets for wool-based products such as insulation.
The next government would establish a National Food Ombudsman to act as a watchdog against unfair trading practices in the food supply chain. The new authority would be responsible for analysing and reporting on price and market data in the food industry.
There would be a national “land use review” to look at peatlands, forests and farmland across the country. The review would feed into future government decisions on “optimal land use,” and consider carbon sequestration, rewetting bogs, and planting forests in areas near rivers prone to flooding.
The document commits to a national State-sponsored tree planting day where communities would be provided with trees to plant.
An Energy Efficient Farming scheme would be established to offer subsidies to farmers who invest in renewable energy and other energy efficient technologies.
A baseline biodiversity survey would be conducted on every farm in the country, as well as a national hedgerow survey.
The next government would set out an “ambitious new target” for organic farming, and provide incentives to farmers to plant woodland on their farms to act as carbon stores.
Irish Farmers Association president Tim Cullinan said the document contained a lot of rhetoric but lacked hard figures.
“The devil will be in the detail in terms of how emission targets are to be achieved and how they are calculated” he said.
Mr Cullinan said it was important “some of the more extreme proposals” from the Green Party, such as a ban on live exports, were not included in the final document.
Edmond Phelan, president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association, welcomed the commitment to a National Food Ombudsman in the deal.
“We want to see this role given real powers to examine who makes what from the food chain because livestock farmers have seen their prices consistently reduced while consumer prices remain steady,” he said.