The chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Environmental Committee – Thomas Cooney – has described the report recently published by Teagasc on greenhouse gas emission reduction in agriculture as “an important blueprint, setting out the necessary policy measures, that the Government must introduce”.

He said that it outlines areas that Teagasc must focus on if it is to ensure that Ireland’s carbon-efficient model of food production continues.

Commenting on Ireland’s grass-based food production model, he said: “It ensures that we have a carbon-efficient model of producing food.

With regards to emissions, our dairy farmers are the most efficient and our beef farmers are in the top five in Europe.

“This provides opportunities for the sector to develop, at a time of increasing demand for dairy and meat produced by Irish farmers.”

Cooney acknowledged that the future development of the sector must be sustainable. He mentioned that a fairer return is required from the marketplace for farmers.

He believes that the measures in the report must be introduced by the Government and supported by Teagasc.

He outlined: “The report highlights that the sector can deliver annual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of 2,000,000t of carbon dioxide, by displacing fossil fuels with bio-energy crops and renewable energy production.

In response to this report, Cooney urged Minister Denis Naughten to announce a robust support scheme.

“Farming is ready to make its greatest contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the farm-scale renewables space. However, Government action is required.”

He concluded: “As recognised in Teagasc’s report, the continued support of Ireland’s network of 800 advisers throughout the country will be essential in increasing the uptake of best practice when it comes to delivering the full potential of emission reductions from climate mitigation.”