Farm Ireland

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Teagasc warns of green hurdle to 2020 plan

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Ireland will face a series of environmental challenges on the road to achieving the Food Harvest 2020 targets, claims Teagasc's Pat Murphy.

The biggest hurdle will be to balance a projected rise in the national cattle herd and the requirement to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Failing to meet targets for GHG reductions could result in Ireland having to buy carbon credits or limit production, said Mr Murphy of Teagasc's environment knowledge transfer unit.

Irish farmers could also find themselves losing markets for beef and dairy products if they cannot meet the targets for GHG reduction, Mr Murphy told delegates at the Teagasc Agri-Environment conference in Athlone.

"We have an opportunity to create a green image for Irish food based on sustainable agriculture," he said.

"But there is a huge number of criteria that will be used under the banner of sustainability."

These include soil protection, animal welfare, waste, water quality, biodiversity, energy use, GHG emissions and nutrient loss.

"We need to have high performances at a national level in all these areas," he added.

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Meanwhile, MEP Mairead McGuinness told conference delegates that Europe needed to focus on producing enough food and feed within its own borders in order to reduce reliance on imports.

In 2008, Europe imported food and animal feed equivalent to 35m 'virtual hectares' of land to meet its import requirement. This equated to an area the size of Germany.

The amount of 'virtual land' imported last year fell to 26m hectares when European production increased.

Caitriona Murphy

Indo Farming