Cutting suckler herd would help greenhouse gas mitigation in agri sector

Cutting suckler herd would help greenhouse gas mitigation in agri sector

A continued reduction of the suckler herd would make an important and cost-effective contribution to greenhouse gas mitigation in the agricultural sector, according to the Climate Change Advisory Council’s annual review.

But the Irish Farmers Association said the proposal is based on the flawed logic of looking at emissions from food production on a single country basis The CCAC review predicted that the potential release of land from beef production could support alternative uses, raise farm incomes and reduce the sector’s exposure to external market shocks.

It warned that emissions in agriculture are expected to continue increasing to 2030 due to growing cattle numbers, increased fertiliser use and ongoing carbon losses from land.

It said:

If allowed to proceed unchecked, this would seriously undermine our ability to meet our 2030 target for a reduction in national emissions

The Council stressed that in framing policy change recommendations it seeks to ensure there is a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions while, at the same time, safeguarding the incomes of farmers and land managers and their long-term financial security.

IFA president Joe Healy said the proposed cut in the suckler herd takes no account of the economic or social consequences, particularly for areas where beef production is the backbone of the local economy, with cattle farmers spending over €1.5 billion each year on agri-inputs.

“Our farmers are amongst the most carbon efficient food producers in the world, because of our grass-based model of food production.

“Reducing the Irish suckler herd will result in an increase in global emissions, as beef would be produced in countries with less sustainable systems,” he said.

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