‘Net Zero brigade is deliberately in the business of devastating our farming sector’
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Mr Allister was speaking following amendments made to the Climate Change (No2) Bill, which imposed Net Zero emission targets.
He warned that hill farming, in particular, will be devastated by this “woke” vote, which saw these parties “consciously vote against the needs and interests of their farming electorate”. “In the course of the debate I strongly warned against this folly,” Mr Allister added.
During last night’s debate in Stormont, Mr Allister said he was there to “oppose, in word and deed, the anti-farming amendments of the Green Party, the Alliance Party and Sinn Féin”. “I want to begin by saying emphatically that farming is not the enemy of the environment,” he stated. “Farmers, indeed, have more vested interest than anyone else in a sustainable future for our land and all that goes with it and have for centuries been the primary custodians of our land.
“It is the ambition of every farmer I know to pass on his land in better condition and facility than he inherited or obtained it.
“I want to refute clearly the commonly peddled mistruth that farmers are the enemy of the environment and the villains when it comes to climate change.
“Let us be clear: they are not the villains, but they will be the biggest victims of amendments such as those we have seen proposed today.”
Mr Allister said it was “abundantly clear that the Net Zero brigade is inevitably and deliberately in the business of devastating our farming sector”.
He continued: It is doing that with full knowledge, because it has in the KPMG report, in flashing lights, the impact of Net Zero on our farming community.
“It could not be clearer. It is not as if people can say subsequently, ‘we did not know’.
“There it is, writ large.
“It tells us that Net Zero demands will decimate our livestock industry, particularly cattle and sheep, and it calculates that there would have to be a staggering 86 per cent reduction in livestock head of cattle and sheep.
“That is, of course, total devastation for most farming enterprises, particularly those of beef farmers, who are predominantly in what we have always called the ‘less-favoured areas’.
“One striking statistic in the KPMG report is that even a 10 per cent cut in livestock levels on a hill farm would make that farm non-viable.
“That is all that it would take — a 10 per cent cut — to challenge and threaten the viability of those farms.
“It goes on to say that that means that 98 per cent of farms in those less-favoured areas would be vulnerable.
“Think of what an 86 per cent cut would mean.
“It would mean the greatest devastation in those areas since the famine.
“Yet that is what Sinn Féin comes to the House to advocate: Net Zero.
“That is what Alliance has attached its wagon to.
“That is what the Greens say to those rural communities — Net Zero — despite the reality of the devastation that that means.”
Mr Allister commented on those in the debate who ‘spoke out of both sides of their mouth’, saying ‘yes, we want 100 per cent reduction, but we are supporting the farmers’.
“Sorry, you cannot do both,” he stated. “You simply cannot face in those diametrically opposed directions, and your voters know it.
“Many of them, I suspect, will remember it.
“I was at a meeting — I have been at many meetings about the issue — where, predominantly, those participating probably would have voted in the past for parties that, today, may be advocating Net Zero.
“Those people were clear that, for them, this was the defining issue and that, if their representatives voted as they had previously voted, they would have to take the message that will be delivered that, while it is only platitudes for them, it is destruction for them through their votes.
“I hope that that message gets through to the House.” The North Antrim MLA continued: “Rural communities, whose interests some claim to have at heart, are right on the front line of decimation under that proposal.
“Think about it: KPMG talks about 13,000 on-farm jobs before we even come to the spin-off processing industries.
“That is surely something that no MLA should have on their conscience when it comes to voting on these matters.
“Your job might be secure — some, maybe, less secure than others — but we are talking tonight about livelihoods.
“We are talking about the future of our rural community.
“It is not something to be played with in pursuit of ticking the politically correct boxes in this woke age.
“It is something to take seriously and make sure that we do not pursue the folly that the amendments advocate to us. “I heard Ms Bailey say that this was all scaremongering.
“A climate activist should be the last person to talk about scaremongering.”
Mr Allister added: “Many of you will tick this box and vote for this woke proposal.
“You will do so with no assurance that it will do anything; you have only the assurance that it will devastate our agricultural industry.
“That is what many of you will opt to do tonight.
“It is time that you rose above the delusion that you, with your net zero, will make the phenomenal difference that you pretend it will.
“Just as the threats and the Armageddon suggestions of the last 50 years have proved to be untrue, this too, I fear, is another false prophecy.”
The TUV leader appealed to those who care about the future of their rural and farming constituents to vote against the “anti-farming” amendments.
“It is not that the minister’s bill is not without threats,” he said.
“To me, it goes too far, but it is by far more preferable to that which is on offer from the climate change alarmists in the House. “Now is a moment of truth for us all, and I will watch with interest to see who stands up for their rural constituents and who wants to put them down and off their land,” Mr Allister ended.