Environment Reports

Environment Council Reports March 2023

  1. Activity since last National Council  
  • The Climate Action Plan 2023 (CAP23) was published on 21st December 2022. The plan is the first to be prepared under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021. The actions for agriculture in this plan provide a pathway to achieve a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for agriculture by 2030 including: 
  • Reducing chemical N use (a maximum of usage of 330,000 tonnes). 
  • Increased adoption of protected urea (90-100% uptake of protected urea on grassland farms by 2030).  
  • Earlier finishing of beef cattle (22-23 months average finishing age by 2030). 
  • Reduced age at first calving of suckler beef cows. 
  • Improved animal breeding by focusing on low methane traits. 
  • Organic farming (75k ha to 450k ha). 
  • Improved animal feeding. 
  • Miscellaneous measures (extended grazing, roll out of a methane-reducing slurry additive etc.). 
  • Addition of a slow-release bolus pasture-based feed additive. 
  • Food Vision recommendations & land diversification (anaerobic digestion, forestry, tillage). 

IFA have developed a briefing note on the Climate Action Plan 2023 (enclosed) with further details. 

  • IFA held a Farming and Climate Summit in Thomond Park on January 10th. A keynote address was given by the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and panel discussions were held with representatives from Teagasc, Bord Bia and other experts. Recordings of the sessions can be viewed on the IFA website.  
  • IFA met with DAFM on Nitrates Derogation. The Minister for Agriculture has agreed with the European Commission to an interim review of the Nitrates Derogation in Q3 2023.  
  • The Commission granted Ireland a derogation until the end of 2025. however, they attached a condition that the maximum stocking rate would be reduced to 220kg N/ha in areas where water quality has declined (i.e., an increasing trend of nitrates concentration and/or with a eutrophic status or ‘could become eutrophic’ status) from 2024.  
  • The interim review will only be based on comparing water quality data between 2021 and 2022.  
  • IFA insists that the Minister must revisit this with the EU Commission. Since 2021 there have been a substantial increase in the measures farmers are required to implement on farms to protect water quality. These measures must be given time to take effect.    
  • IFA met with representatives from the Department of Housing Local Government and Heritage and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to discuss the proposed EU Nature Restoration Law. IFA have requested that a full an impact assessment on the proposed measures be carried out prior to the law being adopted.  
  • IFA prepared a briefing note on the Nature Restoration Law (enclosed). 
  • The Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations were signed on 27th January to extend the exemption for the burning of agricultural green waste. The exemption will allow farmers to dispose of green waste by burning, until 1st March 2023 and will reopen for a final three-month period from 1st September to 30th November 2023. This will be the final year the extension will be granted.  
  • IFA prepared an information note for further information on the burning of agricultural green waste (enclosed). 
  • IFA attended several meetings including Irish Fertiliser Association, the Water Forum, ASSAP, the Irish Farm Films Producers Group (IFFPG) and the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) workshop on Agriculture and Climate Action. 
  • IFA met with TII to progress negotiations on the national roads’ agreement.  
  • IFA had several meetings with ESB and Eirgrid with negotiations on an updated agreement ongoing. 
  • IFA presented at several branch meetings and presented on the proposed EU Nature Restoration Law at the Bangor Erris IFA Regional meeting. 
  • IFA visited the Farm Peat European Innovation Project (EIP) a locally led, results-based pilot programme for farmers who manage lands that surround raised bogs in Tullamore, Co. Offaly. 
  • IFA chaired the Fertiliser Association of Ireland (FAI) Spring Seminar. Presentations from the seminar are available to view on the FAI website.   
  • The Smart Farming programme has completed a reflective impact assessment of 100 farmers by phone and an additional 20 farmers in person who participated in the efficiency programme from 2017-2021. A final report will be published in the coming weeks. 
  • The Smart Farming programme has developed several information notes on various topics to improve resource efficiency. All information notes can be accessed here.  
  • IFA issued a press release stating that the Land Use Review: Fluxes, Scenarios and Capacity Synthesis report commissioned by the EPA is fundamentally flawed. 
  • IFA prepared a briefing note on the Land Use Research report (enclosed) to summarise the main findings. 
  • IFA made a submission to the public consultation on the National Bioeconomy Plan (enclosed).  
  • IFA attended the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications launch event for strand 1/1a of the Community Climate Action Programme. 
  • The IFA Environment and Rural Affairs Committee met on February 2nd, 2023.  
  • Finbarr O’ Regan (DAFM) presented on the National Fertiliser Database, Tadhg Buckley (Director of Policy, IFA) presented on the Nitrates Interim Review and Thomas Cooney (previous chair, IFA Environment and Rural Affairs committee) gave an update on his role on the EPA advisory committee.  
  1. Any EU/COPA developments 
  • Paul O’ Brien, Chair of the Environment and Rural Affairs Committee and Geraldine O’Sullivan, Senior Policy Executive will meet with DG Environment on Nitrates next Tuesday February 28th in Brussels. 
  • IFA have chaired several COPA Biodiversity Taskforce meetings where Nature Restoration Law, Soil Health Law and Water Framework Directive were discussed. 
  1. Upcoming issues 
  • IFA to finalise a Thomond Park declaration to summarise IFA’s position on climate issues. 
  • IFA to finalise lobby document on the Nitrates Derogation Interim Review. 

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