Climate Action Plan: A help or a hindrance to Irish farming?

From a farmer’s point of view, the key thing is that the Climate Action Plan will be based on principles set out in the Teagasc Climate Roadmap, according to the chairperson of the Joint Committee on Agriculture.

Fine Gael TD for Carlow/Kilkenny, Pat Deering, explained to AgriLand: “Every sector – be it transport or agriculture – has a target to meet.”

Deering noted that the measures farmers will be asked to undertake will be similar to those already being taken by some as part of the Smart Farming initiative.

This initiative includes promoting measures such as changing fertiliser use, switching to low emission slurry spreading and increasing lime application levels where needed.

Deering

In the suckler sector, Deering noted: “The next CAP is going to be very important, there’s no doubt an option of reduction is going to kick in for the next CAP.”

However, he stressed that for more efficient suckler farmers: “You can have a good suckler cow, rearing a good calf and having a calf per year.”

He noted that – while the reduction option would be voluntary – the element would be more applicable to less efficient sucklers “having a calf every 18 months or so”.

He also said that the Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP) will be ‘beefed up’ as part of the measures.

“The beef herd can be made a lot more efficient – even from a grassland management point of view.

“You couldn’t argue against making agriculture more sustainable for the future.

At the moment, the beef sector is not sustainable in that 115% of the income for the sector is coming from Europe for example.

“From an income point of view, it’s a matter of changing the way things are done. The idea of having half a dozen suckler cows running around on 15ac for the whole year, it’s a matter of changing management techniques.

“A lot can be done in a common sense way to improve things.

Efficiencies

“If you can improve your efficiencies in whatever way you can do it, you’re achieving your targets.

“For example, if you change your slurry techniques, your fertiliser spreading, or you use more lime, you will be improving your efficiencies.

If agriculture can stick and develop along the Teagasc recommendations then we’re in a reasonably good place.

He explained that: “The way it’s going to work is there’s going to be a governance structure in place whereby each Government department’s secretary general will be obliged to come before a new climate committee to explain – if a sector didn’t make its emissions target – why this was the case.”

Concluding, Deering noted that while carbon tax is set to increase, “it will be revenue neutral and will be ring fenced to go back to those who have paid it”.

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