Agriculture Ministers are set to push back against plans to force beef and dairy farmers to apply for environmental licensing permits, at a meeting in Brussels today.
Currently, only large pig and poultry farmers are subject to the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED).
Typically, these farms must apply for a license from the Environmental Protection Agency to operate as well and comply with a number of actions aimed at reducing methane and ammonia emissions.
However, in April of last year, the European Commission proposed revising the scope of Directive to now also include cattle farms with over 150 Livestock units. This equates to on average 100 dairy cows plus young stock on a dairy farm, according to ICOS.
According to the impact assessment of the proposal, “such increased scope will enhance the IED coverage of emissions of ammonia from the rearing of cattle, pigs and poultry from 18 to 60% and those of methane from 3% to 43%.”
ICOS has said one of the most 'alarming elements' of the proposal is that these farms are being termed “agro-industrial installations”, although it said at such a low threshold the scope primarily includes normal, economically viable family-run farms.
However, it is now understood that EU Agriculture Ministers will push back on the scope of the plans at a meeting in Brussels today.
During an earlier discussion on the EU's proposal, all delegations in principle, accepted that the agricultural sector should contribute to the reduction of emissions.
However, they underlined the need for the provisions of the current proposal to be revised in order to address their concerns having in mind the importance of agriculture and food security and the current challenges that the EU agricultural sector, in particular the animal husbandry part, is facing.
In this respect, a number of proposals were made, focussing on the revision of the specific livestock unit threshold for pigs and poultry and the extension of the scope to cattle.
As examples, they noted the need to take into account the particularities of the different regions of the Union, exempt small and medium-sized farms and farms applying sustainable production practices, provide adequate transitional periods, identify possibilities for further financing to compensate affected farmers and avoid disproportionate additional administrative burden and costs that farmers could face in increasing their contribution to emission reductions.
Particular attention was paid to the need to revise upwards the threshold beyond which livestock farms would be regulated by the directive, in line with similar proposals currently being discussed in Parliament (300LU).