Farmers and restoring biodiversity

The treadmill of intensive beef and dairy production

Sir, – The country’s main farming body has expressed concern about the report of the Citizens’ Assembly on biodiversity (“IFA criticises Citizens’ Assembly on biodiversity as ‘missed opportunity’ to work with farmers”, News, April 6th).

Meanwhile, almost 60 per cent of our land is used for grassland – pasture, hay, silage and rough grazing. Is it any wonder biodiversity has plummeted?

The citizens’ assembly suggests that biodiversity is undervalued in our agriculture production system and policy framework. Critically, changes must be made to incentivise farmers and landowners to protect and restore biodiversity, including ensuring that biodiversity targets in national schemes are significantly more ambitious and that public incentives and payments for farmers must not restrict them in their ambition to make changes for the benefit of biodiversity.

This is the crux of what is required. In the end, it comes down to money and if farmers are expected to be custodians of the environment this needs to be reflected in ensuring that their income is not penalised as a result.


One thing is clear. We can either embrace the challenge of biodiversity collapse or we can continue on the treadmill of intensive beef and dairy production that consumes the majority of the land.

We can’t do both, so let’s stop pretending we can. – Yours, etc,