What do Fine Gael MEPs and the Bavarian Communists have in common?
Apparently a revulsion to sheep farmers (here, those west of the Shannon) as the socially demented Nature Restoration Law cleared the European Parliament today 324 votes to 312 in part due to crucial Irish votes from the Fine Gael delegation siding with the left.
Escaping much public attention, the Restoration Law is perhaps the greatest changeover in land management in Ireland since the Wyndham Land Act and ringfences anywhere between 20% to 30% of land for ambiguously titled “rewilding” projects in the hopes of saving European biodiversity.
While the EU in the past year has already banned new combustion engines after 2035 (including tractors btw) nevermind Soviet-style carbon quotas for industry, this was a step too far even for the feeble EPP group which Fine Gael aligns with and who had attempted to stymie the Restoration Law through an alliance with populists.
Christian Democrats across Europe already feel the heat of right-wing populism as farmer rebellions in the Netherlands show just how easily the prairie fire of agrarian populism can ignite when agriculture is touched during a time of rising food inflation.
The EPP was thwarted however by a rebellion, led by Fine Gael MEPs (all five of them) who helped tip the legislation over the line at a plenary session today in Strasbourg on Wednesday. The worst Irish contribution to European Civilisation since Johnny Logan, the actions of a few feckless Fine Gael MEPs pandering for non-existent votes to their left and under daily pressure from climate NGOs may doom farms from Karelia to Killarney.
Despite the lingering media stereotype that Fine Gael represents mud-booted Midlands farmers and established county gombeens, our supposedly pro-business party of government sided with a catastrophic policy designed by Spanish Trotskyist MEP César Luena to slit the collective throats of farmers across Ireland.
Whether it be the use of pesticides or where farms can operate, the Restoration Law imposes the state’s writ on agriculture in a way not seen since the old Eastern Bloc. It is no coincidence that the strongest opposition to the Restoration Law came from Poland, Romania and Hungary.
The Law feeds into a very intentional plan to tone down food production across Europe post-2020 and will be a hammer blow to rural farming in Ireland akin to the situation Dutch farmers were put into by rigid emission quotas.
The finer details of the legislation passed today will make agriculture a non-starter across swathes of Ireland and open up a system of perverse incentives to companies wishing to rewild the Irish landscape by buying to claim subsidies.
If you thought scandals over reforesting in Leitrim were bad nevermind Coilte’s continued desecration of the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, wait until technocrats are dictating landscapes by committee the next decade, all the while stocks begin to run low in Supervalu. Resistance to the Act has already garnered the interest of aspiring rural populists, most notably Michael Fitzmaurice after previous kite flying on an Irish response to the Dutch Farmers movement.
For Fine Gael it is unfathomable in the year 2023, even by European standards, that parties that nominally pretend to be centrist and represent farmer constituencies instead side with the hard left on such a structural issue. The inertia that keeps Irish politicians in power is in part driven by the stability of the rural vote and keeping big agricultural machines going with many Fine Gael MEPs coming from the very farming dynasties that the Nature Restoration Law will destroy.
We are entering a new era of capitalism where the profit motive is being discarded in favour of a quasi-command economy mingled with progressive social engineering doomed to fail and potentially transform Europe to a dependency of either China or the United States. The inefficient slurry-fueled CAP-fed Irish agricultural model is changing in favour of something a lot more sinister and which our supposed party of law and order opened the door fully to. Whether rural Ireland, in whatever political form it takes, stands up to this attack is another question.