ARC2020 today releases a new report drawn from a policy event organised in Ireland during the Summer. This report compiles responses to a joint policy document on the future of farming and food in Ireland, adding farming, rural and policy perspectives to the collective voice of Ireland’s environmental organisations. Below read the intro and download the full report.
“Towards a New Agricultural and Food Policy for Ireland” was co-developed by the Environmental Pillar, SWAN and Stop Climate Chaos Coalition and released in April 2021. An achievement in itself in bringing together three of Ireland’s largest environmental groups, who together represent over 70 distinct organisations, it was the outcome of a lengthy collaborative process.
Importantly, it is a first step in an ongoing process of inclusive dialogue, with the end goal of building a policy framework for Irish food and agriculture that is in keeping with planetary boundaries. The document departs from the premise that there is a false divide between farmers and environmentalists; in the words of the lead author Catherine Devitt (borrowing from an Extinction Rebellion slogan): “We’re on the farmers’ side”.
This commitment to engagement and dialogue inspired a policy workshop that took place on June 28th 2021, as part of Feeding Ourselves, an online event anchored in Cloughjordan Ecovillage. Organising was led by ourselves in ARC2020 as well as Cloughjordan Community Farm and Cultivate, both of whom are based there. This is an annual gathering of small farmers, seed savers, cooperatives, community food advocates and anyone with an interest in good food, good farming and rural revitalisation. (see our 2019 report and video)
Supportive but critical voices from farming, rural and policy were invited to critique and build upon the initial document. The objective was to create a space for constructive dialogue between socio-ecologically progressive farmers, rural stakeholders, policy analysts, and the environmentalists who led on developing the document in the first place.
Another objective of the workshop was to help close gaps by connecting farmers with policy experts. It was also an opportunity to identify policy drivers that start the process of developing a pathway for a just transition in Ireland.
The workshop opened with presentations by two of the key people involved in developing the document, after which selected respondents were invited to critique it. Remaining participants then joined the discussion in breakout rooms, and insights from these discussions were presented in plenary. To conclude, Talamh Beo presented solutions to some of the problems outlined, in their campaigns for the year ahead.
This report endeavours to present a comprehensive summary of the inputs from all participants in the workshop – based on submissions from speakers, notes taken by ARC2020 staff at the event, and a video recording of the event. Points made by speakers and other participants are attributed with permission; “Insights from the discussion” have been harvested anonymously from the discussion in the breakout rooms.
The policy workshop was organized by ARC2020 with the support of Good Food Good Farming and additional support from Cultivate, Cloughjordan Community farm and the Irish Environmental Pillar.
2019 Feeding Ourselves Video and Report
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