The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has called for a full assessment to be carried out before emissions targets are imposed on the agricultural sector.

IFA President Tim Cullinan said Agriculture, Food and Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue must push back against any attempt to introduce a sectoral emissions cap above 22%.

“This is a litmus test for the minister who must defend our sector,” he said.

The IFA President pointed out that the measures in the current climate action plan are designed to achieve a 22% reduction in agricultural emissions by 2030.

“A target of 30% would result in a significant reduction in production which could devastate the agricultural sector in Ireland.

“The government has not done any research into the implications of a 30% cap for Irish agriculture, the rural economy or its impact on food production. They operate in a vacuum,” Cullinan said.

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IFA President Tim Cullinan

The IFA president said a full economic and social impact assessment is needed before emissions caps are imposed on industry.

“A 30% reduction would likely lead to carbon leakage and increased global emissions as production shifts to other countries with weaker climate policies,” he added.

“The government is required to take this into account in the climate law, but it chooses to ignore it. They also ignore the potential impact on food security.

“Irish farmers are adopting measures to reduce emissions and there are important scientific developments on feed additives and other technologies, but this will take time,” he continued.

“Everyone in society will have to adjust their way of life because of these caps, but farmers will also see a direct impact on their livelihoods,” the IFA president concluded.