The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is seeking a meeting with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue in a bid to resolve outstanding issues with the food vision dairy and beef reports.

Yesterday (Monday, October 24), IFA president Tim Cullinan told the association’s national council that the IFA will not support the documents in their current form.

The comments come as Minister McConalogue today (Tuesday, October 25) received the Food Vision Dairy Group’s final report, which has not been unanimously agreed on by stakeholders in the group.

It contains 19 recommended actions for mitigating the production of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the dairy sector.

The minister will now analyse the report before deciding what the next steps will be and how any actions will be implemented.

Work is ongoing on the final report of the Food Vision Beef and Sheep Group focused on the beef sector.

budget 2023
President of the Irish Farmers’ Association, Tim Cullinan

The IFA president noted that “a lot of good work” has gone into the reports, however he said that the farming landscape has changed since the groups were established.

“We have had the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, which has raised real concerns about food security. In addition, the minister has agreed with the EU Commission to a review of the Nitrates Action Programme in 2023,” he said.

“As part of this, he has conceded that the upper limit on the derogation may be reduced to 220kg of organic nitrogen from its current limit of 250kg. He conceded this without any consultation whatsoever with IFA,” Cullinan said.

“This, along with other aspects of the Nitrates Action Programme (NAP), could have a significant impact on cattle numbers and farmers’ incomes.

“It will also have unintended consequences in the land market and impact every sector, including tillage,” he added.

The IFA has called for “a full economic impact assessment” of these changes before any measures are progressed which could affect production.

“The proposed nitrogen cuts in the reports are too high,” Cullinan continued.

“There is no indication from the minister as to what he actually has in mind for an exit/reduction/diversification scheme and there are no proposals to deal with generational renewal.

“There is little or no reference to any funding for any of these initiatives. The minister must address this.”

The IFA president reiterated that there must be coherence between the dairy report and beef reports.

“The majority of what is proposed is sensible and could help to achieve our emissions targets. However, the minister needs to come to the table now to deal with the outstanding issues,” Cullinan concluded.