Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon has hit out at a recommendation by the Citizens’ Assembly to impose a tax on agriculture emissions, claiming that it could put the viability of small family farms at risk.

Responding to the proposal, Deputy Scanlon said, “While climate change is one of the most pressing issues this country is facing, the recommendation from the Citizens’ Assembly to introduce a second carbon tax for farming is seriously flawed.  In fact, in his presentation to the Assembly, Professor Alan Matthews admitted that the imposition of a new carbon tax would encounter “considerable practical difficulties” and would make Irish farmers “uncompetitive relative to producers in other countries”.

“This measure would put Irish farmers at a serious disadvantage, and while all efforts must be made to reduce emissions in the agri sector, there must be recognition for the steps which farmers have already taken.  Since 1990, Irish agricultural emissions have reduced by 6% and schemes such as GLAS and the Beef Data and Genomics Programme have been introduced to ensure lower emissions.

“The fact remains that Irish farmers are some of the lowest carbon food producers in the world, while Irish dairy farmers are the most efficient (CO2/KG milk) in the EU.

“Additional carbon taxes on agri emissions could force many family farms to the wall.  Currently the average family farm income is €24,060, lagging substantially behind the average industrial wage (€37k).  Increases taxes on emissions are simply not an option for the majority of family farmers – it would render their business unsustainable.  Farmers will continue to play their part to reduce emissions and it is unfair to single the sector out for new penalties”.