Watch: 'Cold stores are absolutely jammed with beef' - Dail row as TD compares Irish agriculture to gas fracking
Both the beef and dairy sector and the gas fracking sector are carbon emitting and have to be scaled back massively, according to Wexford Independent TD, Mick Wallace.
He said the meat and dairy herds are to Ireland what the coal industry is to Poland and the fracking gas industry is to the United States, namely, a short-sighted cash generator, the expansion of which is undermining the chances of survival of the planet.
Mr Wallace made his controversial comments in a bitter Dail exchange today on climate change and agriculture stating " saying we do beef and dairy better is like saying that we frack gas better.
"Both the beef and dairy sector and the gas fracking sector are carbon emitting and have to be scaled back massively if we are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally."
He went on to claim that in terms of being climate or environmentally friendly the Origin Green farm sustainability and quality assurance scheme is "starting to look like a joke".
"Origin green certifies companies routinely showing up on the EPA's worst offenders list over regulatory compliance issues such as pollution and wastewater offences.
"What we have seen is emissions rise in parallel with herd numbers.
"I spoke to a beef farmer this morning he said beef farming is on the brink. "It is a direct byproduct of the government's decision to increase the dairy herd.
"There are too many beef animals in the country and the Government is killing the beef farmers. Cold stores are absolutely jammed with beef."
However, he also said the agriculture sector is worth saving. "It is the only strong, indigenous industry, but the Minister is going down a cul-de-sac with it, unless he starts to take remedial measures and move in a different direction.
"It just does not make sense. He can deny it until the cows come home, but the way we are going is just not sustainable.
Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed called the analogy between Irish agriculture and the coal industry "rather unfortunate" and said Ireland has a comparative advantage in grass-based, carbon-efficient livestock production.
"What is the purpose of dismantling a carbon efficient system that can and must do more to only see product displacing it on supermarket shelves that has a far higher carbon intensity.
"What we must do is in term of the production systems we have become more carbon efficient.
"Driving down the carbon intensity in terms of a unit of output and then in terms of maximising sequestration to afforestation and appropriate soil management."
The Minister said Irish Agriculture is on a relatively speaking on a global scale, carbon efficient.
"It can and must do more and will, but it will not close down and have the product the Deputy would put out of business displaced and replaced by beef from South America or dairy products with a far higher carbon footprint," he said.
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