Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 February 2018

EPA rules out climate change cull

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Cutting the size of the national herd to meet climate-change targets is not a realistic option, the head of the country's environment watchdog has stated.

In a move that will be welcomed by the country's farmers, Mary Kelly, the director general of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), told the Farming Independent that reducing Irish cattle numbers would simply result in farmers in other countries increasing herd sizes, meaning there would be no impact on global emissions.

"Agriculture is tricky, there's no doubt about it," Ms Kelly said. "It is a difficult sector.

"I don't see anyone asking [farmers] to reduce the number of cattle, although that does make a good headline. That's not going to happen."

She said the goals set down in the Food Harvest 2020 report had significant implications for climate change.

A 50pc increase in dairy output, a 20pc lift in beef and sheep production, and a 50pc hike in pigmeat output are the key goals contained in the report.

Ms Kelly said that meant decisions had to be made to offset the increased farm emissions.

"There's a balance there," she said. "If we're going to do that, what is the mitigation? Are we going to plant forests, or what is it we're going to do? Can we trade off the agriculture against a good public transport system for Ireland?"

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Ireland is unique among EU countries because of the proportion of its greenhouse gas emissions which come from agriculture. Some 17.5m tonnes of carbon dioxide are produced by the sector every year, or 27pc of national emissions.

Irish Independent