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Irish farmers under threat: Controversial biodiversity report labeled as ‘extremist’ could devastate their livelihoods

Rural Independent Group Criticizes Citizens' Assembly Report on Biodiversity as "Extremist and Green Rooted"

The Rural Independent Group of TDs in Ireland has criticised the recently published Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss report, describing its recommendations as “extremist and green rooted”. The report, launched on 5 April, contains 159 recommendations on how the EU can act to reverse the biodiversity crisis. However, the rural TDs argue that if implemented, the proposals would harm Irish farmers and rural communities by introducing new regulations and taxes, and dictating food choices. The group’s leader, Deputy Michael Collins, accused the government of manipulating the report to provide cover for Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green TDs to impose stringent net-zero policies. He also criticised the cost of the Citizens’ Assembly process.

Seventeen of the report’s 159 recommendations relate to agriculture, including one proposing the introduction of new sector-specific levies or charges on agricultural exports, with the funds ring-fenced for biodiversity. The group called on the government to phase out all environmentally harmful subsidies in the agricultural and food sector. However, many farm lobby groups have criticised the report, arguing that it could be counterproductive to overall environmental objectives. Deputy Collins said that he and his colleagues are “highly critical” of the above proposals as farmers are already operating on tight margins. He described the report as a “nasty attack on rural communities and farmers across the country”.

The Rural Independent Group also criticised the report’s recommendations regarding an increase in plant-based foods in the diet. The group stated that the report “fails to recognise that animal-based foods have been an essential part of the human diet for thousands of years”. It labelled these proposals “unrealistic” and said that the government “should not be allowed to dictate the foods that people eat”.

The Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss was established by the Irish government in 2019. It is a group of 100 randomly selected citizens who have been tasked with considering the biodiversity crisis and making recommendations for action. The Assembly’s report calls for the EU to adopt a “transformational agenda” to halt biodiversity loss by 2030, including a legally binding target to protect at least 30% of EU land and sea areas by 2030. The report also recommends the introduction of a European Biodiversity Act to ensure that biodiversity is at the heart of EU decision-making.

The report has been welcomed by environmental groups. Oonagh Duggan, Head of Advocacy and Policy at BirdWatch Ireland, said that the report’s recommendations are “crucial” for the protection of biodiversity. She added that “the report is based on sound scientific evidence and is a reflection of the views of the Irish public”.

The report’s recommendations will now be considered by the Irish government. The government has committed to holding a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change later this year.

Categories: Agriculture