I listened with disbelief to the views put forward at the Citizens Assembly over the weekend that farmers should be made to pay for the greenhouse gasses that their activities produce. Such an action would impact seriously on the price of food which would in turn have major implications for the entire economy and particularly the less well off members of our society.
The facts are that if this daft proposal were to become a reality farmers, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet as it is, will have to recieve higher prices for their produce and that will increase the price of food across the board. It is easy to go into the Citizens Assembly and make statements to attract headlines but I wonder did any of these people actually consider the implications of making farmers pay for greenhouse gas emissions.
In our drive for a clean and green economy the transport business will need billions of Euro if they want to make the changes required. Busses and trains will have to be adapted at a huge cost. Iranrod Eireann will need between 2 and 3 billion Euro for instance to change just some of its train network to electric. Signing up to unattainable targets on emissions will cost the Irish economy 40 to 50 billion Euro over the next 8 to 10 years and that’s the reality.
I want the members of the Citizens Assembly to tell the ordinary people of the country that they will have to pay extra for their food. Tell the people who can hardly afford to pay their mortgages, people who are struggling to send their children to third level colleges, people who cannot afford the rent that they are being charged and people who are homeless. We have to live in the real world and not in cloud cuckoo land.
In the area of forestry, when land is planted the carbon credit for that goes to the nation and not to the landowner. In addition there many properties in rural Ireland owned privately that are aiding the reduction in our carbon footprint and the Government are taking the credit. If people who live in our major towns and cities realised just how much this proposal would cost then they might have a different view.
A lot of the changes proposed may be workable in cities and larger towns but I would ask the members of the Citizens Assembly to come down to rural Ireland and look at the situation on the ground and maybe they might have a different view. I would also ask the question how many members of the Citizens Assembly are members of the farming community or have a farming backround?. I have to say that I am flabbergasted at the views expressed by this so called representatative body and especially for people like high court judges and eminent acedemics giving biased and totally one-sided views. It’s about time that a balanced view, and especially the views of people who live in rural areas be taken into account.

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