May 3, 2021

Farmers require balance in terms of environmental practice and food production

Farming Environmental Measures

The latest climate summit presented both challenges and opportunities for Ireland, with IFA President Tim Cullinan stating that a balance is required to reach environmental targets within the Agri sectors role in terms of food production.

Presenting at the Irish Climate Summit last week, Mr Cullinan explained how farmers were committed to playing a role in emissions reductions but policymakers need to recognise the challenge. The Irish Climate Summit explored the existing goals, challenges and opportunities for Ireland’s response to the climate crisis.

The summit assessed how climate action legislation and relevant policy will have a direct and cross-sectoral impact ranging from agriculture, energy and transport to manufacturing and technology. The themes include in the summit were:

  • Climate objectives for Ireland
  • Focused climate governances and youth climate activism in Ireland
  • The first Europe Climate Law for the EC
  • A stronger role for the Climate Change Advisory Council Work of the Oireachtas Climate Action Committee Promoting environmental awareness
  • Investment in net-zero climate solutions
  • Just transition and climate justice Climate leader’s debate.
  • The role of government in terms of responding to climate change and transitioning to a low carbon future after the pandemic.
  • International climate politics

Mr Cullinan stated that while farmers and rural Ireland are supportive of climate action, reaching environmental targets needs to be balanced with the industry’s competitive position in generating high-quality, nutritious food at affordable costs.

Cullinan explained that investment must continue to support farmers and enable them to remain competitive and sustainable as they work through this transition period. Cullinan highlighted that often words can be used to scare and skewer information, but in reality, compared to other industries such as transport, the emissions from agriculture remain at a similar level to 1995.

He stressed that further innovation and development in the industry could greatly benefit the resulting climate dividends over the next few years. To date, farmers have invested more than 80 million euros in low emission slurry spreading and sales of protected urea doubled during 2020.

The use of energy in agriculture in Ireland currently stands at 56% of the average in Europe. Cullinan points to the efficiency of the grass-based production systems in terms of its carbon production.

There is not a case to drive food production elsewhere, generating carbon leakage as the demand for global food increases.