'Don't blame us for emissions' - IFA
The IFA has insisted that any decisions on future climate policy must not damage the country's economic recovery.
The farmer body made a presentation yesterday to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment and insisted that agriculture could not be made the sacrificial lamb for Ireland's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions difficulties.
Under EU protocols, Ireland must reduce its GHG emissions by 20pc by 2020. Agriculture is one of the key areas to be addressed as part of this drive, with farming accounting for up to 30pc of the country's emissions.
The IFA's Jer Bergin said the debate on climate action had to take international issues such as food security and the importance of supporting emission-efficient, food-producing regions such as Ireland into account.
"Environmental sustainability is a central part of food production in this country. Ireland has a grass-based, emission-efficient model, which must be supported to grow and develop, to allow it be part of the recovery of the national economy," Mr Bergin said.
"We expect demand for our products to increase significantly over the next decade and farmers in Ireland are well positioned to meet this growing demand in a sustainable way," he added.
Describing the EU climate targets as "excessive", Mr Bergin pointed out that Irish farmers were among the most carbon- efficient producers of dairy products and beef in the world.
"There is a real opportunity for this committee, as part of its deliberations, to recognise the sustainability credentials of the agri-food sector and to support its future development by rectifying the wrong of the 2009 EU effort-sharing decision," he said.