Over the last few days there have been two protests at Stormont on issues directly affecting NI farmers.
The first, on Saturday, against a proposed cull of badgers, was organised by the NI Badger Group and NI Says No to Animal Cruelty.
Despite claims that the general public is very much against a badger cull in NI, only a handful of protestors turned up.
The second protest at Stormont on Monday was organised by Climate Act Now
At the same time, online petitions against a cull have struggled to get 5,000 signatures.
The second protest at Stormont on Monday was organised by Climate Act Now, an official campaign supported by Climate Coalition NI. The strapline was that those attending “demand a net-zero Climate Act”.
It was the same Climate Coalition NI who initially drafted the private member’s Climate Change Bill presented to Stormont by Green Party leader Clare Bailey, which includes a target for NI to be net zero by 2045. As reported in recent weeks, adopting this target would have severe implications for NI farming.
[...] there were only around 75 people at Monday’s protest
The Climate Coalition NI has among its membership the National Trust, RSPB, Ulster Wildlife and Queen’s University Belfast, so claims to represent over 390,000 people in NI. Yet our estimate is that, when you exclude the media scrum, there were only around 75 people at Monday’s protest.
That included a strong turnout of urban vote chasing SDLP politicians as well as a smattering of representatives from Sinn Féin, the Alliance and Greens.
The NI farm lobby has eloquently set out why a cull of badgers is necessary
If that is the best these various organisations can do it really does beg the question why they are being given so much traction by mainstream media and have the ear of so many of our politicians.
The NI farm lobby has eloquently set out why a cull of badgers is necessary, and why a 2045 net-zero target would be so damaging.
Our politicians should take note of those real concerns, and if the agri-food industry needs to drive home the point at the steps of Stormont that is something all NI farmers should be willing to do.