Commenting on the call by the Friends of the Irish Environment for a 10 metre buffer zone to exclude cattle from all streams, rivers and lakes, the President of ICMSA, John Comer, said that farmers will be infuriated by what he called “the usual knee-jerk response of loading more environmental regulations and costs onto farm families” whenever any environmental issues arise. Mr Comer said that his own association was committed to fact-based and scientifically grounded arguments and policy and were entitled to expect those groups and individuals, whose default setting was to blame farmers, to be similarly committed to the facts and evidence. Instead, what farmers got, according to Mr Comer, was vague accusations based on an insulting stereotyped idea of farmers as uncaring in respects of their environment. The farmer leader said that in his experience nothing angered farmers more than this clichéd slur that where no other cause could be scientifically established for environmental damage “it had to be the farmers”.
“Farmers have spent literally hundreds of millions in meeting the various and complicated requirements of the EU Environmental Directives. We have never been as aware of our role as guardians of the Irish countryside and environment and that heritage is taken very seriously by the present generation of farmers. But it never seems to be enough for certain groups whose real problems and real agenda seems to be against the whole concept of active commercial farming. It’s very noticeable, for instance, that the council spokesman quoted by this group only said that flash flooding in the area ‘may’ have washed cattle faeces into the sea. We can reasonably ask on what scientific basis that ‘may’ is suddenly transformed into a factual problem whose solution could see thousands of farmers with rivers and lakes on their land losing huge strips of their own land. The real friends of the Irish environment are the farming families who are now – and always have been – the backbone of the rural communities and rural life in this country. Frankly, we are tired of having groups continually chipping away at our rights to earn a living from our farms while we are already meeting some of the most stringent environmental regulations anywhere in the world”, said Mr Comer.
“ICMSA will not debate with any so-called environmental group other than on the basis of demonstrated scientific fact and it might be better if all parties with an interest in this issue – including the Minister and the Department – were to turn their attention to the need for a properly resourced agri-enviroment scheme in Pillar 2 of CAP that would be some kind of adequate replacement to REPS and cease the endless sniping and scapegoating of farmers on the basis of bias and hunch”, he concluded.
Ends 19 August 2013.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office