The way in which farming has been practiced almost since the Anglo-Norman system of ownership and division of the land became prevalent, has rarely before faced a more serious threat, the President of the ICMSA, Pat McCormack, said following a meeting with the three principal government politicians in command of the agricultural sector.
The capacity of the family farm to provide sufficient income for the occupiers to bring up their families may no longer be possible if the series of threats from climate change, animal health regulations and the new Common Agricultural Policy cannot be adapted to meet the needs of those tending the land, he said.
“From nitrates to climate change, to animal health regulations, to the new CAP, hugely significant decisions will be required from Minister McConalogue and his colleagues and we are frankly worried by the government’s starting position which is that farmers will be forced to do more with less and less support. That can’t be right, and in ICMSA’s opinion it will lead to a disengagement that will hamper progress towards the position we all know we need to reach.
There are over 400 group water schemes spread across Ireland, all operated by the communities that they serve and it is important that the fine work that these all achieve is facilitated by farmers through ensuring that they apply fertilisers to their lands in the appropriate manner, the chairman of the IFA Environment & Rural Affairs Committee, Paul O’Brien, has said.
Farmers have a duty as custodians of their environments and “are acutely aware of their responsibility to protect water quality. Programmes such as Smart Farming and the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme work with farmers to ensure that measures adopted at farm level improve and protect water quality,” he said.
It is a fundamental element of farming to ensure the protection of water supplies and applying fertiliser at the correct time, at the right rate and in the proper place on the land is an essential feature of this.