IBEC climate plan won't halt expansion, say dairy bosses

File photo
File photo
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The dairy industry has strongly denied that processors have put a quota on further milk expansion by accepting that carbon emissions from agriculture must be capped at current levels.

In a move which has prompted serious concerns among farmers, the business lobby IBEC has recommended that carbon emissions from agriculture should be restricted to the current level of 20.2 million tonnes from this year.

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The IBEC figures are included in a recent submission to the Government and come as the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment is in the process of finalising a national climate action plan.

IBEC represents the interests of both the dairy and meat processors through its constituent groups, Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) and Meat Industry Ireland (MII).

The IBEC submission provoked a strong reaction from the IFA, who expressed concern that the move could allow the Government to take a hard line on agriculture, which produces around 30pc of state's carbon emissions.

"Dairy co-ops and meat processors must clarify if they support this proposed cap on farm output. This represents a significant policy shift which undermines Ireland's low-carbon model of food production," said IFA environment chairman Thomas Cooney.

"It will have a significant impact on farm-level investment decisions in the coming years and would be a further body blow for rural Ireland. IBEC would be better off working with farmers to deliver the IFA's proposed Dairy Sustainability Programme."

However, a senior DII official insisted that there was "absolutely no question of a new quota regime being imposed" as a consequence of the IBEC submission.

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He pointed out that the IBEC document sought a 70pc reduction in carbon emissions in other areas of the economy such as the energy sector and transport, while maintaining carbon emissions from agriculture.

He added that the IBEC document supported the Teagasc recommendations on mitigation measures. This view of the IBEC document was supported by MII, which claimed that the submission was a recognition that a "whole-of-economy approach is needed to address the [climate change] challenge but it recognises the unique position of agriculture".

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