Farm organisations are calling for a balanced approach in regard to setting targets for the agriculture sector under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 announced this week.

The bill will set legally binding targets in place for each sector, with the overall aim being net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

IFA president Tim Cullinan said that Ireland’s position as a sustainable food producer had to be recognised.

The bill recognises the “distinct characteristics” of biogenic methane emitted from livestock and Cullinan said the bill must follow the New Zealand model to ensure it is treated differently from other emissions.

ICMSA president Pat McCormack also cautioned that a “realistic and proportionate” response was needed. He said it would be disastrous if any kind of transition to cutting emissions moved too fast or too recklessly.

The issue of paying farmers for their contribution to the environment was raised by ICSA president Dermot Kelleher.

“Current proposals to set up a pilot agri-environment scheme suggest a level of payment no better than GLAS and this is not remotely commensurate with the demand for a net zero strategy or indeed the various other biodiversity indicators,” he said.

Increased supports for young farmers to help drive environmental change were called for by Macra na Feirme president Thomas Duffy. He pointed out that young farmers were key to driving change and yet just 5% of farmers were under 35.

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