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Following his address to the IFA AGM earlier this week, IFA Renewables Project Team Chairman Tom Short said Energy Minister Richard Bruton has to put farm scale & community projects at the heart of his renewables policy, rather than big business.

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Addressing the climate session on the 2nd day of the IFA AGM, IFA President Joe Healy said if Government is serious about addressing climate change and empowering farmers to participate, it should not force a farmer out of an enterprise. It should be about creating economically and environmentally sustainable options for farmers to increase their incomes or reduce costs.

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Responding to the report published by The Lancet today, IFA President Joe Healy said the report fails to take any account of how carbon efficiently food is produced in different regions of the world, or the very high standards that Irish farmers adhere to.

Joe Healy said, “Irish farmers are engaged in climate action. We have very efficient food production systems in Ireland from a climate perspective. We are the most carbon efficient dairy producer in Europe and amongst the top five in beef. It’s important that this sustainable production is not restricted, as it would lead to increased international climate emissions. This would happen because regions like the Brazilian Amazon in South America would be deforested to meet this growing demand”.

The Teagasc climate roadmap, published in June last year, represents a clear strategy for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the sector. However, it requires whole of Government support. The IFA has written to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and sought his climate leadership in co-ordinating the key Government Departments and state agencies to fully deliver this climate roadmap.”

Joe Healy said proteins from beef and dairy are an important part of a balanced diet. The threat to public health from obesity is well documented. Dietary balance, variety and moderation combined with an active lifestyle remain the single-most important message we all need to act upon, and this is what public health authorities must focus on.

He said it was a ludicrous distraction to suggest that people should have little or no meat and dairy as part of their diet.

In recent weeks IFA published five actions that Government can take to support farming to deliver on climate. These include a call for the establishment of a cross-sectoral implementation group, including IFA, and to mobilise Government Departments and the State’s advisory, scientific and economic development agencies to maximise the delivery of the reductions identified by Teagasc in their recent climate abatement report.

IFA President Joe Healy said it’s now time to move beyond climate blaming and into climate action. Government led by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar must now lead a co-ordinated ‘whole of sector’ delivery of the climate reducing potential of this Teagasc scientific report.
The report identifies the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly nine megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-e). This is almost half of the emissions attributed to agriculture and can be delivered by changes in agricultural practice (3.07 Mt CO2-e), land-use changes (3.89 Mt CO2-e) and fossil fuel displacement (2.03 Mt CO2-e) in the sector.
The report identifies 27 specific measures to deliver this, however it also emphasises that this climate abatement potential can only be achieved if there is ‘maximum level of uptake’.

IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney said, “Delivery of these actions will require funding from the Department of Finance, planning changes from the Department of Housing, tariff supports from the Department of Environment, technical expertise from the Department of Agriculture, Teagasc, the SEAI and the EPA, as well as advisory support from Enterprise Ireland.

This requires co-ordination and commitment at the highest level in Government and An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar must now step onto the pitch. Delivery of the greenhouse gas reducing measures contained in this Teagasc report is what climate leadership looks like, the leadership that both An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Environment Minister Richard Bruton have referred to in recent weeks”.

IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney said that Ireland’s climate focus on improving efficiency in the agriculture sector dovetails with key proposals contained in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published today.

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