The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has called for a full assessment to be carried out before any emissions targets are imposed on the agriculture sector.

IFA president Tim Cullinan said the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue must push back on any attempt to introduce a sectoral emission ceiling above 22%.

“This is an acid test for the minister who must stand up for our sector,” he said.

The IFA president outlined that the measures in the current Climate Action Plan are designed to achieve a 22% reduction in agricultural emissions by 2030.

“A target of 30% would result in significantly reduced production which could devastate the farming sector in Ireland.

“The government has done no research whatsoever on what the implications of a 30% ceiling would be for Irish agriculture, the rural economy or what impact it would have on food production. They are operating in a vacuum,” Cullinan claimed.

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Tim Cullinan IFA president

The IFA president said that a full economic and social impact assessment is needed before any emissions ceilings are imposed on the industry.

“A 30% reduction would be likely to lead to carbon leakage and an increase in global emissions, as production will move to other countries with weaker climate policies,” he added.

“The government is required to take this into account in the Climate Act, but they are choosing to ignore it. They are also disregarding the potential impact on food security.

“Irish farmers are embracing measures to reduce emissions and there are significant scientific developments on feed additives and other technologies, but it will take time,” he continued.

“Everyone in society will have to adjust their lifestyle as a result of these ceilings, but farmers will also see a direct impact on their livelihoods,” the IFA president concluded.