THE Munster chairman of the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) said farmers being asked to reduce carbon emissions by 25% by 2030 represents a ‘bad day’ for farming.
Courtmacsherry native Harold Kingston was speaking to The Echo after new Sectoral Emissions Ceilings were announced by the Government today. Mr Kingston said the 25% target is bad for farmers who had campaigned for a 22% reduction in agricultural emissions.
"Right now, that looks like they are taking out the production of 300,000 breeding animals. It is a bad day for farming. We don’t know what plan is there,” he said.
Mr Kingston said farmers will now be considering whether to continue farming on a full-time basis or cut down their farming completely.
“It doesn’t matter what size of a farm you have. It will be tougher if you are on the average because you will be wondering if am I going to stay full-time or go part-time and cut down completely.
“We know there are things we need to do. We can see climate change happening. It is not just grass growth, it is trying to keep water to cows and there are changes happening in terms of weather patterns.
"Without having a pathway and knowing how we will get from 22% to 25% it is a very bad day for agriculture that we have to cut production,” he added.
The Government’s Climate Action Plan 2021 set out a 22-30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions target for the agriculture sector, as part of Ireland’s aim to reduce its total emissions by 51% by 2030.
On Thursday afternoon, ministers signed off on the targets for each sector.
A reduction in the range of 62-81% was outlined for electricity, with a 42-50% reduction in transport and a 25% target agreed for agriculture.
Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue said the agriculture target reflected a “very challenging, but ultimately achievable, ambition for the sector”.
“I will back farm families and this Government will too, over the course of the next decade, to reach for ambitious targets. We will support them every step of the way.”
People Before Profit/Solidarity TD Paul Murphy said that the 25% target set for agriculture was “yet another Green Party failure”.
“Agriculture accounts for 37% of Ireland’s emissions. A 25% reduction by 2030 is hopelessly inadequate,” he said.
Social Democrat TD Jennifer Whitmore said: “Unfortunately it appears Government ministers and TDs were more interested in protecting their seats rather than protecting the environment and the future of our rural communities."
IFA president Tim Cullinan said the 25% reduction in emissions is “a potentially devastating blow” for Irish farming.
"The Government has agreed to a target without any pathway to getting there or any budget to assist farmers to reduce emissions," he added.