‘Grass-based dairy and beef production will remain the backbone of Irish farming’

Grass-based dairy and beef production will remain the backbone of Irish farming, according to the head of the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS).

The umbrella body for the co-operative movement in Ireland has given its response to a recently published report from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action.

Commenting on the report, ICOS president Michael Spellman said: “I am particularly pleased to see the report’s strong emphasis on knowledge sharing and the roll out of the 25 climate mitigation measures contained in the Teagasc Marginal Abatement Cost Curve.”

Spellman added that: “Ireland’s low cost, grass-based system with cows at grass for up to 300 days a year underpins the Irish agri-food sector and delivers the highest animal welfare, environmental and biodiversity standards.”

He also noted that “leafy grass is a good carbon sink which must be measured and accounted for in greenhouse gas emissions inventories”.

Anaerobic digestion

Spellman welcomed the report’s recommendation to develop a network of anaerobic digestion or biogas co-ops.

“Anaerobic digestion is a proven technology with significant potential to reduce emissions from stored slurry and manure; reduce nitrous oxide emissions; and also offset fossil fuels as an energy source.

There is a clear need for meaningful support from the Government to maximise the potential of AD biogas in Ireland, recognising the high investment costs involved.

“ICOS is willing to work with farmer and industry stakeholders to help develop the AD sector in Ireland on a co-operative basis by providing legal and governance advice and support to communities and groups of farmers willing to invest in the AD sector.”

Concluding, Spellman said: “ICOS also urges the Government to initiate a grant-aided solar microgeneration scheme using farm buildings, in partnership with agricultural co-operatives.”