ICMSA President, Mr. John Comer, has acknowledged the considerable challenge posed for Irelands’ Non-Emissions Trading Sector following the announcement by the European Commission which has set a target of a 30% reduction in Irelands Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2030 relative to 2005 levels, particularly given the low mitigation potential of the major sectors such as the agricultural sector.

However, Mr. Comer stated that it is extremely important to recognise the fact that Ireland is a world leader in terms of carbon efficient agriculture and has the lowest carbon footprint for milk production and the fifth lowest for beef production in Europe.

He continued to say that in the context of global population growth, and increasing demand for food, there is a significant opportunity to further develop and expand our dairy and beef sectors and that Ireland’s grass based system provides us with a natural competitive advantage and differentiates us from many international competitors.

Irish farmers will meet this challenge of sustainable intensification but must do so in the knowledge that it will provide an economic return.

Mr. Comer stated that “Agriculture has a responsibility and a very important role to play in achieving these targets but cautioned that it would be extremely counterproductive to suggest any reduction in production in Ireland, only to import food from less sustainable systems abroad”.

Irish farmers continue to become more carbon efficient and we simply cannot accept any unnecessary restrictions being placed on agriculture.

In conclusion, Mr. Comer said that while agriculture represents a significant component of Ireland’s emissions profile, Irish farmers recognise and accept the challenge and will continue to farm in a sustainable manner which will contribute positively towards reductions in the emissions intensity of the sector but recognition of our global standing as a carbon efficient producer needs to be recognised.