An Irish MEP said that he is “alarmed” by reports that the EU Commission may extend the scope of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) to include more farming enterprises.

As part of a major review of the IED, the commission is expected to propose that farms with 100 cattle or more will require permits.

In a leaked draft document seen by Agriland, it is outlined that the permit system – which already exists for large pig and poultry operations – would be extended to cover larger cattle (including dairy) enterprises.

The recommendations also include a proposal to increase the number of pig and poultry farms that would be subject to permits by lowering the threshold of livestock units (LUs) at which permits are required.

However, it should be noted that the proposal is in its infancy and may be subject to amendments – assuming it even comes to fruition in the coming years.

Emissions directive

The document states that “rearing of pigs, poultry and cattle causes significant pollutant emissions to air and water”.

“In order to reduce such negative impact, it is necessary to lower the threshold above which pigs and poultry installations are included within the scope of this directive.

“In addition, it is appropriate to include cattle farming as well in this scope, alongside pigs and poultry installations.

“The legislative framework provided for in this directive will contribute to reducing, among others, ammonia, nitrates and greenhouse gas emissions from rearing, and improving air, water and soil quality,” the draft document outlines.

The proposed thresholds of LUs for which permits would be required in the different sectors are: 100 LUs for cattle or a mixed cattle, pig and poultry operation; and 125 LUs for pigs, poultry or a mixed pig and poultry operation.

However, it should be noted that under EU regulations the conversion rate of animals to LU differs across various farming enterprises.

The draft proposal has been slammed by the Irish Farmers’ Association with the organisation’s president, Tim Cullinan calling for it to be “binned”.

MEP reaction

Ireland Midlands North-West MEP Colm Markey told Agriland that he is “alarmed” by the proposal.

“This would directly impact family farms, which are not of industrial scale and do little to address the problem,” he said.

“Our farmers have been asked to do so much and now they’re being asked to do even more,” the Fine Gael MEP continued.

“It seems the commission is more interested in making life difficult through bureaucratic practices than finding practical solutions.

“Given the huge challenges facing farmers right across the country at the moment, the timing of this directive is ill-considered,” Markey concluded.