Love Food, Love Life
The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy post 2020 is open to the public for submissions in Ireland until this Friday, March 23rd, 2018. This policy will dictate the direction of Agricultural Policy in Europe post 2020.
It provides an opportunity for people who care about animals to have a say in the future of farming in Ireland. Vegan Sustainability has prepared a short document below which can form the basis for your submission.
You need to copy and paste this into an e-mail which you need to send to email@example.com with your name and address in order to make a formal submission.
Thanks for taking the time to participate in this in order to transition to a plant based future,
– from the team at Vegan Sustainability Magazine.
Copy/Paste the below text to your email:
Thank you for the opportunity to submit on the future direction of agriculture in Ireland. I am making this submission because I want to see a transformation of Ireland’s current inefficient meat and dairy centred Agriculture System. Irish agriculture slaughters about 100 million animals each year. It also causes significant air and water pollution and is the main cause of biodiversity loss (through destruction of habitat) in the country.
1. 67% of Ireland’s land mass is used by agriculture and 12% by forestry. Of the agricultural land, 81% is devoted to pasture, hay and grass silage (3.67 million hectares), 11% to rough grazing (0.48 million hectares) and 8% to crops, fruit & horticulture (0.38 million hectares). Over two thirds of tillage crops are fed to animals. About 97% of Ireland’s agricultural land is used for meat and dairy. The average proportion of land used for agriculture in the EU is 42% and for forestry is 35%.
2. Ireland imports approx. €7.7 billion of food (including beverages and oils and fats). Ireland receives over €2 billion in subsidies and we export €12 billion of food (primarily meat and dairy). Irish agriculture like all animal agricultural systems is a net sink/consumer of food calories. On a net calorie basis, Ireland’s food exports feed 1.4 million fewer people than Ireland’s food imports.
3. Without subsidies Irish Agriculture is not economically viable and beef and sheep farms actually operate at a loss as shown below. On average, farms in Connacht and the Border counties operated at a loss with subsidies exceeding 100% of income. “In 2016 the average total farm payment was €17,932 and this accounted for 75% of farm income on average.” No farms would be viable without the payment of public funds from the EU and the department of Agriculture.
4. According to the EPA Irish Agriculture generates 32% of Ireland’s GHG emissions.
Given the above situation I would like to see the following changes to Ireland’s agriculture;
- Ireland should rapidly transition to an organic plant based agricultural system centred on growing grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
- All subsidies for animal food and feed would be ended and replaced by subsidies for organic plant based products. This will enable public funds to be used for ecologically beneficial activities and no longer for ecologically harmful activities. The transition would need to protect and support farmer’s incomes as they move to either plant based agriculture, forestry/ecosystem restoration, or biomass/biofuels production.
- Implement a farmed animal tax. This tax should account for the environmental, health and intrinsic losses from animal farming.
- Ireland should increase the production of plant proteins for human consumption improving soil and biodiversity while eliminating the need for artificial fertilisers.
- 40%-50% of Ireland’s unproductive Agricultural land should be converted to native deciduous forestry. This would sequester the majority of Ireland’s GHG emissions.
- Ireland should transition to a 100% organic farming approach. Currently three million kg of pesticides are sold annually in Ireland. Ireland could follow the Danish Government which has produced a plan for an organic agricultural system.
- Farmers would also be involved in biomass production and participate in community owned energy generation from wind and solar.
- Plant based milk, yoghurt, and cheese (for example from oat, hemp, and barley) would replace dairy products.
- Farmers could also increase the production of multi-purpose crops like flax and hemp which have multiple uses for food, clothing and even for insulation (hempcrete).
- Farming policy should be drawn up with a wide range of interested stakeholders.
Moving to an organic plant based agricultural system would have major benefits including;
1. Reducing Ireland’s GHG emissions and sequestering previous emissions at a fraction of the cost compared to renewable energy and energy efficiency investments.
2. Eliminating the use of anti-biotics from the food production system helping to reduce the development of antibiotic resistance. Currently 100,000 Kg of vetinary antibiotics are used annually in Ireland’s intensive meat and dairy agricultural system.
3. It would eliminate the risk of zoonotic diseases which develop in intensive animal farming systems.
4. It would eliminate genetically modified food from the Irish food chain. Ireland imports nearly three million tons of mostly GM soy for animal feeds.
5. It will free up enough land to have 35% native broadleaf forestry (plus 10% of existing conifers to give a total of 45% of land forested) and significantly expanded wildlife protected areas and areas for recreation.
- The area designated as a Special Protected Area under the EU Birds Directive should be increased from 3% to at least the EU average of 11%.
- The area designated as a Special Protected Area under the EU Habitats Directive should be increased from 7% to at least the EU average of 14%.
6. Reducing the risks of developing – and in certain cases, enabling better management of – a range of chronic diseases. Often defined as ‘lifestyle-diseases’, obesity, diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidaemia, hypertension, coronary artery disease and cancer.
7. It would eliminate the use of three million kg of pesticides.
8. It would enable the restoration of Ireland’s water bodies in line with the requirements of the Water and Marine Strategy Framework Directives.
9. Irish companies could profit from the rapidly growing plant protein industry.
10. As the human population is still rising this will contribute to global food security as annually 8.6 Gt of plant foods are converted to 0.5 Gt of meat and dairy products.
11. It would greatly reduce Ireland’s food imports and improve our food security.