Farmers are ‘very concerned’ as ‘tense’ discussions over farm shows continue

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Ireland can achieve a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions without reducing the herd, according to the Irish Farmers Association.

Talks on the scale of farm emissions cuts are underway this week, with the Green Party demanding a target as close to 30% as possible.

Farmers are pushing for a target closer to 22% and talks between Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue have been described as “tense”.

The Climate Change Advisory Council has said the sector must make cuts if Ireland is to meet its emissions reduction targets.

There are now fears that a deal will not be reached before the final Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, meaning a decision will be pushed back until at least September.

On Newstalk breakfast this morning Irish Farmers Association chairman Tim Cullinan said he would be ‘very, very worried’ if the target was set at more than 22%.

“For farmers to achieve a 22% reduction is going to be expensive and difficult to do,” he said.

“If we were to go beyond that and go into the region of 30%, well, there would be huge costs for the sector – in the order of 4 billion euros a year and the potential to lose 50,000 to 55,000 jobs.

“It’s in a sector that provides 170,000 jobs in every city and parish across the country.”

The Green Party faces opposition from other governing parties in its attempts to set the goal at nearly 30%.

Last night a group of six Fine Gael TDs – John Paul Phelan, David Stanton, Charlie Flanagan, Paul Kehoe, John Cummins and Garret Ahearn – issued a statement calling for the cuts to be kept low.

The TDs claimed there were too many ‘finger points’ towards agriculture and said the supposed ‘battle between cows and climate protection’ must end now.

Protests

Mr Cullinan declined to say whether farmers would protest if their emissions target was set closer to 30% than 22%.

“I can’t say that this morning, but what I can say is that if we are to end up at this level it will be devastating, not just for farmers but also for rural Ireland,” he said. he declared.

“I don’t think any of us want to see that happen when there are ways to fix that and make sure we bring everyone together on this journey as well.”

He said farmers are ready to invest in new technologies, including anaerobic digestion, solar panels, forestry and carbon farming – but only if agriculture gets credit for the reductions they bring.

He said there are real concerns that cuts related to new technologies will be credited to other sectors.

He insisted that Ireland can meet its 50% emissions reduction target by 2030 without reducing the size of the national herd.

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