The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has claimed that a government-funded climate report may cause reputational damage to the Irish agri-food sector.
The farming organisation said that it has “major misgivings” about the report prepared for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by scientists at Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Galway.
The report stated that Ireland will need to cut livestock numbers by up to 30%, plant up to 875,000ha of forestry and carry out significant rewetting of drained soils to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
The research was funded by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).
INHFA national president, Vincent Roddy said that this report and others are “undermining the reputation of Irish food and Ireland’s Origin Green credentials”.
“It is very difficult to market Irish food as being environmentally sustainable while at the same time encouraging a cull across our livestock sectors on the premise that this helps address issues around climate change and biodiversity loss.”
The INHFA president questioned if the science in the report related to secondary research and how much of that research had been carried out in Ireland.
Roddy also said that the recommendation in the report that one fifth of our land mass should change use is “as extremely problematic not just for farmers but the wider rural economy”.
“We must recognise the enormous damage that this will inflict on many rural communities who are dependent on the economic activity generated through farming,” he said.
The INHFA president claimed that the outcome from the proposed additional forestry and rewetting of farmed peat soils would be similar to the forced evictions seen in Scotland during the Highland Clearances over 200 years ago.
Roddy said “this is not just a battle for farmers” and called on business, chambers of commerce and public representatives to protect “our rural communities and our way of life”.