Reforming agricultural policy


Sir, – From the coverage of the recent opening up of beef exports to China, it’s hard to find much evidence to support Joe Healy’s argument that agriculture has turned into the whipping boy in the debate on climate change and indeed environmental degradation (Opinion & Analysis, April 20th).

According to Bord Bia, some of the reason for this demand from China is due to the 20 per cent of the land there being heavily polluted and 40 per cent of water being polluted.

In the meantime, Ireland has recently received yet another derogation from the EU nitrates directive, enabling a large number of Irish farmers to have higher cattle stocking rates than stipulated by the directive.

Even some farming bodies are beginning to question this lunacy.

The president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association Patrick Kent stated in response to the second major fodder crisis in five years, “Systems have been pushed beyond their limits and there is no safety cushion built in for when things go wrong . . . It’s not good enough to expect farmers to maximise production to meet overly ambitious export targets and then wash your hands when trouble hits”.

Let’s be clear here. Ireland is not helping to feed the world; since 2000 we have been reducing global food security by drawing on world food supplies to support our agricultural model.

It is time the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was reformed to stop it rewarding polluting agriculture that actually reduces world food supplies. – Is mise,