Brexit and climate change: farmers speak out
William Taylor (Farmers for Action, Northern Ireland) draws attention to the next Fairness for Farmers in Europe meeting at which climate change will be the common denominator.
Pictured (l-r) back row Edmond Phelan, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) Beef Chairman, Pat McCormack, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) Deputy President , Michael Clarke, Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA) Chairman and Brian Brumby, Manx NFU President. ‘Front row, Samuel Morrison, Farmer For Action UK NI Steering Committee, William Taylor, Farmers For Action UK NI co-ordinator and FFE co-ordinator, Paul Smyth, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) Policy Officer, Susan Atkinson Family Farmers Association (FFA) and Patrick Kent, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) President. Missing from photograph but present at the meeting was Chris Mallon, National Beef Association, National Director and Belinda Leach, General Secretary Manx NFU.
On the agenda is Brexit. By and large FFE members would be in favour of either Theresa May’s deal worst case scenario or stay in the Customs Union and single market – if none of these, then they would support another referendum that would promise remain and fight for reform of the EU by the UK Government.
- legislation on farm gate prices for Northern Ireland,
- current trade deals ie Mercosur, CETA,
- the strong possibility of a US Trade deal the day after, if and when we leave the EU.
- and of importing more food produced by methods increasing climate change
Our objections to these must be focused on the hypocrisy of Westminster and the EU – on the one hand admitting to a climate change emergency and being seen to be adhering to their Paris Climate Change commitments – yet being happy to ‘carry more coal to Newcastle’.
The main example is beef, the EU is now 102% self-sufficient, yet we are already importing 99,000 tonne per annum mainly from Brazil where corporate beef and grain farming companies are clearing rainforest for fresh productive land whilst not fertilising the waste land they leave behind. The latest Mercosur deal will allow in a further 99,000 tonnes, disadvantaging European beef farmers and offering no advantage to the average family farmer in Mercusor countries.
We ask why is the UK and Southern Ireland trying to force an agenda of planting more trees, reducing the activities of our farmers, whilst being a party to felling them in Brazil
Simple answer – our old friends the food corporates filling their pockets and couldn’t care less about climate change!
William Taylor will also refer to the 2019 Gosling report: “After reading these stats in favour of reducing climate change congestion on the roads, accidents and the commonsense of transporting heavy bulk goods and other by water, where next day delivery is maybe not an issue, moving more freight to inland waterways would appear to be very much on the table”.
Phil Bennion (below left), a Liberal Democrat West Midlands MEP, who farms an arable farm of 260 acres near Tamworth, spoke out at a ‘Brexitime’ question and answer session with local farmers in Stratford-upon-Avon on Tuesday August 6th and reports that former NFU chief economist Sean Rickards, a panellist at the event, gave a bleak assessment of the effect of the post Brexit trading environment on UK farming:
“The government has already made it clear that (after Brexit) they are going to let the rest of the world in without tariffs and large sections of British agriculture couldn’t compete. Beef and sheep sectors will shrink quite severely, horticulture will struggle with labour issues and therefore the only sectors that will continue will be arable farms on an increasing scale to compete.
“The character will change, the size will change and the structure will change. It will be a smaller industry operating on an industrial scale and the remoter parts of the country will see farming almost wiped out.“