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Environment & Rural Affairs

Following the decision by the Department of Agriculture to conduct an early review of the terms of the nitrates derogations IFA is holding five regional farmer meetings.

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IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney has described the Dáil’s declaration of a climate emergency in Ireland as “a wake-up call following a decade of climate inaction by successive Governments.”

Thomas Cooney said, “The first national climate road map out to 2030 was published in 2009[1]. The key actions that would deliver the greatest climate impact were known, but not acted upon adequately. Farm scale and community based renewable supports were not put in place, to support the displacement of fossil fuels. Adequate supports for retro-fitting homes and buildings with appropriate insulation and lighting were not introduced and the development of forestry on unenclosed lands was hindered. Instead we have lost decade to acrimony and finger wagging including trying to make farmers the fall guys for decades of climate inaction in this country. Amid all the noise in the climate debate, it has become lost that the key culprit of emissions spiralling out of control in Ireland is transport not farming and food production.

This climate emergency declaration must  focus on action.

Farming is one of the few sectors with a plan. Teagasc’s climate roadmap is an important scientific pathway to assist the agri-food sectors low carbon transition. This scientific plan is far better than the unrealistic proposals put forward by the Citizens’ Assembly or threats to the national herd.”

IFA again calls on Government to use this climate emergency declaration to co-ordinate relevant state agencies and Government Departments to maximise the delivery of improvements to farm level efficiencies; a reduction in fossil fuel use; and the development of on-farm renewables, as set out in Teagasc’s climate roadmap

Farmers are engaged in positive climate actions. Over 212,000 carbon assessments have been completed, as part of Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme. Over 40% of farmers participate in the Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme. Over 10,000km of biodiversity and climate positive hedgerows have been planted. Over 1,000 farmers interact in the voluntary Smart Farming programme. Farming needs to get the carbon and biodiversity savings recognised from these actions.

The agri-food sector is Ireland’s largest indigenous productive sector and a key driver of economic activity in every parish in Ireland. To secure a just and sustainable climate transition, future climate measures must lead to improved farm level profitability,” he concluded.

[1] Sustainable Energy Ireland (2009) Ireland’s Low-Carbon Opportunity. An analysis of the costs and benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 


Opening the Smart Farming Spring seminar in Portlaoise today (Tues), IFA President Joe Healy challenged the Government to come forward with a comprehensive climate action plan that will harness the potential of agriculture.

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Speaking at the launch of the climate report in Dáil Éireann today, IFA President Joe Healy said the Teagasc Plan is the basis for further climate action in agriculture and is far better than the unrealistic proposals put forward by the Citizens’ Assembly. This included an unjust and inequitable tax on Ireland’s carbon efficient food production model.

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Smart Farming will begin its 2019 work activities at its spring seminar, by focusing on ways to improve farm returns and enhance the rural environment.

The details of the Department of Agriculture Knowledge Transfer approved seminar are as follows:

Date: Tuesday, 30th April

Time: 1.45pm

Venue: Portlaoise, Midlands Park Hotel (formerly Heritage Hotel)#

Launching the programme, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton said, “The Smart Farming programme is a great example of how agriculture can take the lead on sustainability, showing how careful management of resources can reap both financial and environmental rewards for farmers. In 2018, the average farm saved €7,170 while reducing their emissions by 9%. That is a fantastic result for the individual farmer and I encourage all those interested to get involved and see how they too could benefit from these improved practices”.

IFA President Joe Healy said, “I am encouraged by the growing numbers of farmers who want to take part in the Smart Farming programme and share cost savings and environmental improvements with their neighbours. Farmers face increasing environmental asks and the collaborative approach of Smart Farming is a great way to identify cost reductions on farms, while enhancing the rural environment”.

EPA Director General Laura Burke added, “Increased greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture present a clear challenge representing around one third of our total national emissions. The approaches and innovations identified in Smart Farming demonstrate that energy efficiency gains and reduced emissions are achievable on the participating farms. The future success of this ambitious programme will be to mainstream implementation of these measures through wide and willing take-up by the farming community.”

The Spring seminar will be addressed by farmers and presenters from the Department of Agriculture, UCD, Teagasc and the BRIDE project in Cork. They will set out how farmers can:

• Access the Department of Agriculture’s €10m on-farm renewables fund.
• Focus on grass growth and alternative enterprise systems, such as once a day milking and mixed farming of cattle and trees.
• Find out about the important role of crude protein in animals’ diets.

Professor Patrick Wall from UCD will outline how important it is for all the stakeholders along the food chain to address consumer concerns regarding sustainability and the need to be aware of the attributes of sustainability that consumers consider important.

He will emphasise that consumers also have a responsibility to modify their consumption patterns, reduce waste and adopt more sustainable lifestyles.

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