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Rural Dialogues | Smart Villages – Turning Momentum into Support for Local Action

The momentum behind Smart Villages continues to grow – both within EU and national policy circles and on the ground among rural communities. The challenge is to translate this momentum into a policy framework that provides fast and flexible tools which meet the needs and expectations of rural communities in different parts of Europe. This will mean avoiding complicated structures and plans, mobilising what exists in each place – and supporting local action rather than words. […]

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Ireland | Beef Plan Movement Steps up Protest

On Wednesday the 10th of July an estimated 2,500 farmers took to the streets of Dublin to protest against the proposed Mercosur deal. The protest was organised by Beef Plan, a voluntary not for profit organisation set up in October 2018 by a small group of farmers from Meath (in Ireland’s centre-east). Since then, its membership has grown to over 20,000. So who are they and what do they want?  […]

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Brussels | Farmers, Environmentalists tackle EU-Mercosur Deal

Several organisation representing farmers and environmentalists came together in Brussels to protest against the Mercosur trade deal yesterday. Responding to a call from the Belgian farmers group FUGEA, farmers and activists gathered outside the European Commission to protest against the threat posed by Mercosur to farmer incomes, the environment, and the rights of indigenous peoples in South America. […]

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Letter from a Farm | Saving Carrottop – the Life of a Cow in Mayo

We’re back on Sineád Moran’s farm in Mayo, Ireland to meet her stock. Sineád introduces her cows and some of the struggles they have been facing over the last two years. It brings up questions about farmer’s knowledge and learning to trust your instinct. But really caring for your cows takes time and energy, something not all farmers can afford.  […]

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Ireland | Agriculture as part of a Just Transition

How can the agricultural sector in Ireland be part of a Just Transition to address inequality in the sector and tackle climate change? Agriculture is not only a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland, it is also the most unequal sector in the Irish economy in income terms. When it comes to climate change and agriculture, we need to change how we think about the challenge of reducing emissions. Farmers and their communities must play a central role in planning climate action to ensure it is good for farmers as well as the planet. […]

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UK | Farmland Tax Breaks Revealed

Recent publications have thrust the inequality of UK land ownership into the public eye. Lesser known is that landowners (and farmers) profit further from a series of, sometimes bizarre, tax breaks. Miles King summarises the findings of a report by People Need Nature into this tax system. […]

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Czech Republic | “No Forests, No Water, No Future” – Part II: Moving On from Monocultures

Drought, insect infestations, biofuels and monocultures are impacting Czech agriculture and the ability of the soil to do its jobs, from water storage to erosion prevention. In part one of this series we exposed this troubled ecology of soil, forests and water. Next, we look at how history, politics and policy have shaped the lie of the land. With Louise Kelleher in Prague. […]

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Czech Republic | “No Forests, No Water, No Future” – Part I: Bugs in the Ecosystem

Record droughts across Europe have been compounded in the Czech Republic by a plague of bark beetle that has jeopardized the nation’s forests. In a country where forestry and farming go hand in hand, every tree lost is a blow to the land, scuppering the soil’s capacity to store water and leaving it more vulnerable to erosion. To make matters worse, the vast fields of rapeseed that have become ubiquitous to Czech agriculture in recent years thanks to generous EU subsidies for biofuels have left the topsoil in a sorry state. […]