A MEETING WITH IRELAND’S MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND ONE OTHER GOVT MEMBER OF THE IRISH DELEGATION VISITING NEW ZEALAND:  Tuesday 14th March I had the opportunity to meet the Irelands Minister Of Agriculture -Charlie McConalogue & Ireland’s Defence Minister and also one of the Minister Of Agricultures close colleagues from the Irish government. Knowing I was going to meet the Irish delegation the following day I decided to do a bit of Research. The Fianna Fail political party which they are members of are in alliance with the Social Democrats and Labour Party. The main aim of the party is to unite North and South Ireland. The Minister has a background in farming, was living in Australia for a short while then returned too the family farm in Donegal when his father died. He is married with 2 children.

THE COW SCRAPPAGE SCHEME: Individually I spoke with 3 members of the Irish Govt delegation, they  each said ‘the cow scrappage scheme is not legislation yet, its voluntary. Dept Agriculture calculated in Oct 2022 that Farmers could lose between 1,770 -2910 pounds (monetary) for every cow culled  I was told by each member of the Irish delegation “this legislation does not exist” its voluntary

AGRI-BUSINESSES:  I questioned the Minister Of Agriculture if the govt was pushing large Agri-business, and how would owners of small holder farms cope with the cost of setting that up, and would it be viable?  He responded “the farms in Ireland are mostly large farms, not smallholder farms, so there was no problem.”  Later in my research I found the Minister not to be entirely honest that Irish agriculture is dominated by family owned farms- approx. 140,000 farms with the average land holding of 32.5 hectares.

DAIRY FARMERS EXIT SCHEME: The EDairy News 5/3/2023 confirmed the Dairy Farmers Exist Scheme. Farmers are to cut emissions by 25% by 2030.  Nationally across the whole of Ireland 51%  cut in emissions, that’s includes transport buildings etc by 2030.

LAND GRABBING: I also mentioned Land and Water Grabbing in Ireland, there was no denial it was happening. There was no denial that large Agribusinesses are threatening small holder farms, when I said that farmers could not compete with them hence they become backed into a corner with nowhere to go but to walk away or sell out. There is a pressure to make profits is tearing farm families apart, farmers that are debt ridden. A high court decision was made that farmers cannot be forced to sell their land to clear debts.

IRELANDS LANDSCAPE: Ireland has fertile soils, abundant rainfall, is suited for growing ryegrass an excellent inexpensive feed for livestock. There is a rich tradition of stockman-ship and crop husbandry with farming skills down through at least 200 generations. There are the remains of a 5,000 yr old Stone Age Farming landscape of stone walled fields, and a preserved blanket of bog growing beneath the soil. Farmers are known for their highly organized communities, they work together on clearing hundreds of acres of forestry thus dividing their land into fields for cattle rearing. Beef and milk production are the two most important farming sectors accounting for 66% of Irelands exports (€1bn per month in 2018) an estimated annual 13.6 bn that year..

2.BEEF FARMING: Ireland is the largest beef exporter in Europe, one of the largest in the world. 85% of dairy output is exported. Irish agriculture is dominated by family owned farms,. Ireland has rich green grass 9-10 months per year

ENVIRONMENT FACTS: Agriculture GHG emission 2020 31.7%. Transport Sector represents 17.9%. Emissions from Irish power generation and industrial companies has increased by 15% (2 million tonnes in 2021.  Ireland is one of 187 parties to have ratified the Paris Agreement, committing to limit global warming to well below 2.oC, pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5Oc

EU LEGISLATION: In September 2022 the Commission also called on Ireland and ten other Member States to introduce national legislation to prevent and reduce the impact of certain plastic products, as required by the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive

FUNDING IRELAND’S TRANSITION: To become the first Climate Neutral continent by 2050, means significant investment from both public and private. The EU Green Deal Investment Plan creates a framework to facilitate sustainable investments of at least one trillion pounds (money) over the next decade. A European Commission assessment of Ireland’s National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) states that potential funding from EU sources to Ireland between 2021 and 2027 amounts up to €13.3 billion, much of which can help with the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy.. Ireland will be using €989 million for ‘Recovery and Resilience Plan for responding to the Covid pandemic crisis to fund other Carbon reduction initiatives.

IRELAND’S SMART CITIES: EU is supporting Ireland Green Transition to ‘Mission Cities’. A 100 Climate Neutral Smart Cities by 2030. Cities of Cork and Dublin are two of these. Mission Cities receive  €360 from Horizon Europe funding covering the period 2022/23 to start innovation paths towards climate neutrality.


THE AGRI-CLIMATE RURAL ENVIRONMENT SCHEMES (ACRES): The Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) will deliver significant long-term environmental improvement through participation by a significant number of farmers on the most appropriate land, with each making a strong improvement on their farm. Using a habitats-based approach, delivered through both prescription and results-based actions, ACRES will contribute significantly to achieving improved biodiversity, climate, air and water quality outcomes.

THE ECO-SCHEME: A new initiative this CAP funded by funding 25% of the direct payments ceiling – is to reward farmers for undertaking actions beneficial to the climate, environment, water quality and biodiversity, and will be implemented annually, with farmers having the opportunity to opt in or out on an annual basis. The Eco-scheme will be open to all active farmers in the country, or groups of active farmers. Farmers must deliver at least two of the following agricultural practices::-

(1) Space for Nature (Non-productive areas and landscape features). GAEC 8 and Space for Nature calculation.

(2). Extensive livestock production

(3). Limiting chemical nitrogen usage

(4) Planting of native trees/hedgerows.

(5). Use of GPS controlled spreader and/or sprayer

(6).Soil sampling and appropriate liming. (7). Planting a break crop (8) Sowing a multi-species sward.

ORGANIC FARMING SCHEME: The Organic Farming Scheme will support farmers who want to convert from conventional farming systems to organic farming systems, as well as to support its continuation after the initial period of conversion – a maximum of two years. It will increase the area of land farmed organically in Ireland, as well as increase the number of sustainable farming systems to deliver enhanced environmental and animal welfare benefits and help respond to the increasing demand for organically produced food.

THE SHEEP IMPROVEMENT SCHEME: Provides financial support for actions that improve animal health and welfare in the sheep sector. The Sheep Improvement Scheme will contribute to improved welfare through targeted interventions in lameness control, parasite control, genetic improvement, flystrike, and appropriate supplementation. Farmers in the scheme get €12 per breeding ewe for completing flock welfare measures.

THE STRAW INCORPORATION MEASURE (SIM):Is a payment for chopping straw and incorporating it into the soil.

AREAS OF NATURAL CONSTRAINTS: This scheme provides payments to people farming land in designated areas face significant hardships from factors such as remoteness, difficult topography, climatic problems and poor soil conditions.

TARGETED AGRICULTURE MODERNISATION SCHEMES (TAMS) Provides grant aid to farmers to build and/or improve a specified range of farm buildings and equipment on their holding. Details of the new €370m five year scheme, including eligible items, grant aid levels

CAP FUNDED ECO SCHEME: A new initiative in Ireland is the CAP funded Eco Scheme by funding 25% of the direct payments ceiling thus rewarding farmers for undertaking actions beneficial to the climate, environment, water quality and biodiversity, and will be implemented annually, with farmers having the opportunity to opt in or out on an annual basis.

THE EU COMMISSION AND IRELAND’S GREEN DEAL: The European Commission is promoting investment into cutting edge research to tackle Climate Change

IRELAND’S CAP STRATEGY PLAN 2023-2027: Equates to enhancing market orientation short and long term by including greater focus on research and technology.EU are working with Ireland’s Govt encouraging them to protect bogs- (the bog restoration projects

IRISH FARMERS FEAR BANKRUPTCY: Small holder farmers are now leaning towards the political right, many believe they will go bankrupt. It’s obvious a lot of pressure is being put on Ireland Government to comply to Legislations. Ireland is a EU Member Country. EU Commission has huge powers.

A LAND GRAB TIDAL WAVE WAS LARGELY HIDDEN FROM PUBLIC VIEW: In Ireland the  wider EU. This land grabbing is a serious threat for the food sovereignty of our peoples by large scale industrial agriculture. 

IRISH HILL FARMERS: A plan to rewet over 200,000 hectares. This land grabbing is a serious threat for the food sovereignty of our peoples … by large scale industrial agriculture, of farmed peatland in Ireland by 2050 has been blasted as a land grab (12 Oct 2022 The Farmers Journal). Shannon Land Gab having a huge effect on the economy in west of Ireland,

THE EU COMMISSION HAS A LOT OF POWER: In September 2022, the European Commission called on Ireland to take action to stop the cutting of peat within Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). If Ireland fails to respond to the call, the Commission could decide to refer Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union. The Commission previously sent Ireland a formal notice and a reasoned opinion on protecting raised bogs back in 2011.

EU LEGISLATION APPLIED TO EACH MEMBER STATE: The European Commission is responsible for ensuring EU legislation is applied in each Member State and has previously launched infringement procedures against Ireland over breaches of environmental law. For example, a landslide during excavation work for Derrybrien Wind Farm caused extensive environmental damage, resulting in the Commission taking Ireland to court in 2008. The EU’s Court of Justice found that Ireland had failed to carry out an environmental impact assessment for the wind farm and imposed a one-off financial sanction of €5 million and ordered that daily penalties of €15,000 be paid until such time as the breaches were rectified.

LATEST ENVIRONMENT NEWS -IRELAND : 14th March 2023. EU has proposed to reform electricity market design to accelerate a surge in renewable, phase out gas.  14th February 2023 The EU has proposed ambitious new CO2 emissions target for new heavy duty vehicles from 2030 onwards. 26th January 2023. The EU Commission started taking procedures against Ireland for non-compliance with EU Law. Refers to ‘calling on Ireland to reduce emissions of several air pollutants, to comply with certain regulation on the dissemination of terrorist content online.

IRELAND AND CENSORSHIP: :July 2022 EU countries to take certain measures to prevent the spread of certain terrorist propaganda. Measures include designating an authority responsible for issuing removal orders, creating rules for when companies fail to remove harmful content from their platform. In 2022 Ireland had no specific laws covering Internet Censorship. Online and Social Media companies are not subject to regulation by the State for content that is shared on their platforms. However Ireland has a Data Privacy Acts 1988-2018 designed to protect people privacy. The legislation confers rights on individuals to the privacy of their personal data as well as responsibilities on those persons holding and processing such data.

MEDIA THAT’S BANNED IN IRELAND: Pornography that includes any participants being beneath the Irish age of consent is strictly illegal. This includes videos, DVD, film, photographs, digital files, drawings and text descriptions. There are no other laws banning specific types of pornography in Ireland.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: In Ireland a ‘bog’ is a wetland. It is covered with mosses, plant and pools of water, below the surface is all made of peat, This looks like solid land, it is like a spongy carpet.

JUST ONE FOR THE ROAD: Paddy looking pretty rough, but never mind that, because Paddy doesn’t mind that at all. Paddy has the cheek of old Nick, so to speak.  In for a laugh in for a pound.

Paddy saunters into this very flash Harley Street doctors office. He asks this well spoken doctor “Do you treat alcoholics”. The doctor answered Paddy in a respectful manner “Why certainly Sir”…“Great” said Paddy, grab yer coat and in can buy me a few pints cos I’m  absolutely skint”

‘CHEERS’  Happy Belated Saint Paddy’s Day   Carol Sakey.

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