There has been a wash of policy measures thrown at farmers in the past week. On Saturday, we revealed on that the Government had agreed a 21-30% reduction in agricultural emissions by 2030. Under the climate act, this target will be woven into a legally binding path to reduce national emissions by 51% by 2030. Therefore, these targets require careful assessment and detailed analysis in order to fully understand the short- and long-term implications for farmers.

Worryingly, there seems to be an acceptance in some quarters that the targets mark a success for farmers and the farm lobby. Some base this simply on the fact that the energy sector received a much higher target of 70-80%. Others take validation from the fact that environmentalists are lamenting the lower level of ambition for agriculture. Neither should be used as a benchmark to assess the impact on livelihoods of farmers or the rural economy. A target to reduce emissions by 80% for an energy sector that can pass the costs of its green transition on to the consumer is very different to the scenario facing farmers. Furthermore, the shift to a 21-30% reduction target should be assessed in the context that – as Phelim O’Neill reports – only three months ago, the Government signed off on a Food Vision 2030 report which only identified potential to reduce emissions by 10% over the next decade.