The Irish Beef and Lamb Association (IBLA) has hit out at what it calls the “grossly inadequate” debate on agricultural emissions, following the announcement of a 25% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target for the sector.

The farm group claimed that “there is no joined up thinking, there is no utilisation of the science and there is no plan” for the agriculture sector to reduce its emissions.

The IBLA also asserted that the industrial sector “with its powerful lobby has steered the attention towards agriculture”.

“The only sector in our society that can remove carbon is agriculture, yet it is deemed that we need to cease or reduce the work that we do as farmers. This work feeds many people and contributes to reduced emissions in the carbon cycle.”

The group is calling on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue and Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan to “implement a proper system which recognises carbon sequestration by Irish farmers on their farms, which will utilise our natural resources to remove as much carbon as possible”.

The association said this structure must be allocated values, which Irish farmers can utilise and avail of in terms of income.

The IBLA argues that a collaborative approach “is required by all”, and urged ministers McConalogue and Ryan “to show leadership and look to international best practice on how other countries reward farmers for the carbon sequestration carried out on their farms”.

“The penalisation of the only industry that can remove carbon from the atmosphere is not based on sound scientific evidence.

“If we take a step back in recent years, when the same number of cattle were in the fields but the skies were clear from engine emissions and the roads were quite, nature showed us the true contributors to GHG emissions,” the group argued.