INHFA calls for suspension of Climate Change Advisory Council

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) president, Colm O’Donnell, has called on the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, to suspend the advisory council pending a review.

O’Donnell’s calls come on the back of the recently published report by the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC), which, he says, recommends a possible cut of up to 52% in suckler cow numbers “while giving the dairy sector a free pass”.

O’Donnell told AgriLand that the credibility of the CCAC has being damaged and all aspects relating to the committee “must be reassessed”.

Meanwhile, addressing some of the findings in the report, O’Donnell pointed to the need for clarity in relation to the analysis conducted in reaching the final conclusions.

I want to know if there are any Irish studies conducted in relation to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on suckler systems?

He continued: “Do these systems factor in what carbon these lands sequester and if there are similar studies for our sheep and dairy sectors?

“With regard to the dairy sector we need a full explanation on how emissions in this sector are calculated and if they include the full life-cycle of the dairy cow.

“Is it only based on milk solids produced through her lactation periods?”

‘Generating emissions’

O’Donnell went on to point out that it would be necessary to determine if other embedded emissions – generated throughout dairy products’ total life-cycle – are included such as the feeding of soya bean, higher electricity costs involved in cooling, transportation costs and production costs of any final product that would also factor in packaging, disposal and recycling.

The contradictory nature of the report is very evident in its call for a reduction in the national suckler herd to address an issue caused mainly by the dairy sector.

He added: “Another issue in this report that INHFA finds unacceptable is the proposal to reduce the suckler sector based on its profitability.

“The rebranding of our suckler beef to recognise a naturally reared product with a lower carbon footprint has the potential to address many of the issues around profitability.”