Carol Nolan TD



Agriculture lies at the heart of our economy. I live in a rural area in which I am surrounded by farmers, and I have the utmost respect for the difficult work they do. As a proud member of the Rural Independent Group since February 2020, I have been at the forefront of campaigns to ensure the viability of the agricultural sector for current and future generations.

The Government is completely disconnected from the hardship that people in rural Ireland face on a daily basis in trying to secure their livelihoods. The people on the ground are the real experts, and yet their voices have been repeatedly ignored by Government. This is completely unacceptable and needs to change.

The Government’s green ideology is plunging rural Ireland into chaos and is recklessly jeopardising jobs without providing any alternatives. Myself and my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group were part of just ten independent TDs who voted in opposition to the Government’s Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021. Farmers in Ireland are doing excellent work on the sequestration of carbon and are playing an important role in protecting the environment. Their contribution, however, frequently goes unacknowledged and they are often scapegoated in the climate debate. I have made a detailed submission to the consultation on the EU Just Transition Fund and the development of a draft territorial just transition plan. Emissions targets have to be practical, achievable and sustainable, and I will continue to work hard on behalf of my constituents to ensure that no community is left behind.
I am aware of many beef farmers running at a loss despite producing one of the highest quality products in the world. Recently in January 2023 I was proud to speak alongside my Rural Independent colleagues on the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Bill which seeks to ensure farmers will achieve fair prices. I have also called for the introduction of an independent beef regulator to address the monopoly of processors and retailers which leads to unfair opaque price-fixing practices. I voiced strong opposition to the EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement which would threaten farming livelihoods and have I petitioned for more supports for farmers in Project Ireland 2040. I have petitioned for the allocation of funding to deliver a €30 ewe payment; to take steps to strengthen the sheep sector and to ensure its viability, including the indigenous and export wool markets; and for at least €100 million in funding to be provided to the pig sector. I have consistently highlighted the plight of agricultural contractors whose livelihoods are being decimated by high input costs such as green diesel. I will continue to petition the Government regarding these issues to ensure the agricultural sector receives the support it deserves and urgently needs.
In June 2022 I was delighted to see that the multi-million euro Banagher Chilling Project was granted planning permission. I consistently engaged with An Bord Pleanála over a two-year period in relation to this project and welcomed the decision. However like many people in Offaly, Laois and the wider midlands region, I was dismayed to see that a judicial review of ABP’s decision has been sought. We need to ensure the planning process is reviewed so that important projects such as this are not subjected to lengthy delays. Banagher Chilling would open up competition in terms of beef processing and this competition is essential to ensure farmers receive a fair price for their goods. We need to ensure that our planning process encourages, and does not deter, investment into rural Ireland.
There are critical threats affecting the agricultural merchants’ sector, which employs more than 10,000 people. For instance, a recent EU requirement stipulates that all veterinary medicinal products, including antiparasitic drugs, can only be dispensed on foot of veterinary prescriptions. This is despite the fact that thousands of highly skilled and trained agricultural merchants have been dispensing these drugs since 2006. They make a valuable contribution in this area and have not caused the rise in antiparasitic resistance. I called for the Government to seek a derogation in this matter to allow responsible persons to continue issuing a veterinary prescription. I have further petitioned to separate the prescribing and dispensing of veterinary medicines as is done in Scandinavian countries.
The agricultural sector in Ireland is hard-working and innovative, and this needs to be supported and encouraged by the Government. I have called for a scheme similar to the farming equipment and technology fund in the United Kingdom to be introduced which would subsidise the purchase of technology such as the augmenta nitrogen analyser. I have also petitioned for supports for farmers who wish to use organic fertilisers or fertiliser pellets that are biologically composted and 100% organic. Funding available to the tillage sector needs to be increased with respect to research, developing new markets, centres of excellence and achieving greater economies of scale. More funding for solar grants in counties Laois and Offaly for the installation of solar panels on outhouses and buildings other than domestic dwellings should also be prioritised.
With regard to young farmers, I have called for agricultural apprenticeships to be encouraged and incentivised. This will help to ensure agriculture remains a viable option for young farmers and promote the future sustainability of the sector. The Government urgently needs to address issues such as the difficulties accessing credit and the burdensome nature of preparing for inspections which serve as deterrents for young farmers. I have also petitioned the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will consider revising the upper age limit for access to various Departmental schemes that occurs when a young farmer obtains a green certificate. I will continue to campaign for supports for young farmers so that the future of Irish agriculture can be protected.