Farmers in dark over 25pc cut

A 25% emission reduction target has been agreed for agriculture, sparking anger in the farming sector and confusion about how exactly it’s to be achieved.

The agriculture minister has vowed that the national herd won’t have to be cut, but as of yet, there has been no detail as to how the target is going to be achieved before 2030.

Industry analysis suggests that even with a cut of just 21% reduction in greenhouse gases, the beef herd would have to be reduced by 6%, and the dairy herd by 5%, resulting in the lost of 10,000 agri-linked jobs, and over €1 billion in revenue.

“We heard Charlie McConalogue stating that the national herd won’t have to be cut, but it’s very hard to how this 25% emission reduction is going to be achieved,” said Bunbrosna farmer, Paddy Donnelly. “Twenty-five percent is a high figure.

“And yet when you look at other countries, the size of Brazil, we only have a fraction of the cattle that they have. I think we have something like five or six million cattle, compared 200 million heads.”

“Another thing is, are we going to be credited for our hedgerows and trees, which other countries just don’t have. They have their crops right up to the motorways. The Irish farmer should receive carbon credits for hedgerows.

“The government have given us no real idea as regards how the individual farmer is going to achieve this.”

Even more worrying, according to Richard O’Brien, Westmeath IFA vice-chair, is the fact that this 25% reduction could divide the farming sector.

“This could set beef and sheep farmers against dairy farmers, who are being paid fairly for their product. The former are relying on farm payments to make ends meet.

“We were led to believe that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were holding strong for us, but then I heard on Monday that 25% had been agreed... nobody is happy about it,” said Mr O’Brien.

“The way the economy is gone, there high costs involved for the farmer, this is just another blow to the system. Part of the problem is this country doesn’t have any other major production for export, so farming is an easy target. We’re just sitting ducks, and we’ve no real other option but to comply. We can’t go Dutch on it and hold the country to ransom.

“Did you ever hear of the saying, measure twice and cut once? Well in this case the government seem to be cutting first and measuring later. It’s guesswork.”

The government have outlined that there will be significant new financial support for farmers to install anaerobic digesters to produce methane gas from slurry and grass and pump it into the national gas grid, as well as supports for the installation of solar panels. Another possible income stream suggests that there will be more ore money for planting trees and restoring wetlands.