Teagasc warns of green hurdle to 2020 plan
Ireland will face a series of environmental challenges on the road to achieving the Food Harvest 2020 targets, claims Teagasc's Pat Murphy.
The biggest hurdle will be to balance a projected rise in the national cattle herd and the requirement to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Failing to meet targets for GHG reductions could result in Ireland having to buy carbon credits or limit production, said Mr Murphy of Teagasc's environment knowledge transfer unit.
Irish farmers could also find themselves losing markets for beef and dairy products if they cannot meet the targets for GHG reduction, Mr Murphy told delegates at the Teagasc Agri-Environment conference in Athlone.
"We have an opportunity to create a green image for Irish food based on sustainable agriculture," he said.
"But there is a huge number of criteria that will be used under the banner of sustainability."
These include soil protection, animal welfare, waste, water quality, biodiversity, energy use, GHG emissions and nutrient loss.
"We need to have high performances at a national level in all these areas," he added.