Farming's climate challenge getting bigger
Increasing numbers of dairy cow are driving farming's greenhouse gas emissions, though other key sectors fare worse, the latest data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows.

Greenhouse gas emissions from Irish agriculture grew by 2.7% last year, following a 1.5% increase in 2015. “The most significant drivers for the increased emissions in 2016 are higher dairy cow numbers, (+6.2%) with an increase in milk production of 4.4%,” the EPA reported.

Other sources of increased agricultural emissions, although smaller in volume, showed faster increases, such as spreading lime (+8.4%) and urea (+26.5%).

After a steady decline from 1990 to 2011, emissions from agriculture have now increased for four of the past five years, according to the EPA.

While farming remains the largest source of greenhouse gases in the country, the other two main contributing sectors showed faster-growing emissions. Those from energy generation grew by 6.1% and those from transport by 3.7%.

Cara Augustenborg of the environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth said: “Our emissions have increased in almost every sector, including transport, agriculture, and energy – demonstrating a systemic problem in how our country functions.”

2020 targets

Overall, Ireland is now just in line with its European emission target for the so-called non-ETS sector, which includes agriculture, transport and home heating. If confirmed, the existing trends would see the country miss its targets from this year as we approach the 2020 deadline and associated financial penalties.

We produce our food sustainably and know we can do more

IFA environment chair Thomas Cooney said: “Agriculture remains the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland, reflecting the importance of the sector to the national economy, with over 300,000 employed directly and indirectly in Ireland’s largest indigenous sector. However, we produce our food sustainably and know we can do more.”

While he blamed the expected missed targets on the “bad deal” done when obligations were agreed at EU level for 2020, Cooney said that the millions of euros expected to be paid in expected fines should instead be directed towards an immediate “climate activation programme”.

The programme includes five points recently detailed in the Irish Farmers Journal by IFA president Joe Healy, including the re-opening of GLAS and development of tools such as smart farming and the carbon navigator, as well as forestry, biomass and solar energy incentives for farmers.

Read more

Energy sector to shoulder carbon burden for agriculture – ESB

Full coverage: agriculture and climate change

IFA to oppose farm loan sales at AIB meeting
Farmer representatives will highlight the sale of farmers' debts to vulture funds as the bank's shareholders gather this week.

IFA representatives will lobby AIB shareholders at the bank's annual in Dublin this Wednesday.

The IFA will "have a presence outside the AIB AGM in Dublin" a statement from the organisation reads.

It continues: "This is part of a planned campaign to be rolled out nationally against AIB’s plans to sell certain farmer loans as part of its most recent loan sale."

Earlier this month, the Irish Farmers Journal revealed that around 100 farm loans were included in AIB's planned sale of debts to an affiliate of US-based vulture fund Cerberus.

While not a call for a farmers' protest, the small-scale lobbying is likely to be repeated around the country in the coming weeks, an IFA spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.

AIB is 71% owned by the Irish Government.

Read more

Banks in last-chance saloon with public

Up to 100 farms in AIB loan sale

Exclusive: Rabobank sells 1,800 farm loans

Queally brothers firm falls foul of EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published the latest National Priority Sites list, with five businesses not meeting the necessary environmental standards.

Five sites are on the latest list for failing to meet the necessary environmental standards set out by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

One of the companies, food processor Arrow Group, is owned by the Queally brothers, who also own Dawn Meats.

Arrow Group previously appeared on the environment watchlist in January this year.

All the companies on the list face further enforcement action from the EPA to secure compliance.

The five sites represent less than 1% of industrial sites licensed by the EPA, but account for 21% of complaints received.

Three sites are new to the list, while Glanbia Food Ireland Ltd and Rosderra Irish Meats have been removed from the list that was published in January.

The five companies included are:

  • Arrow Group, Kildare – noise and odour complaints.

  • Euroflex Teoranta, Donegal – emissions to air and waste management.

  • Western Brand Group Ltd, Mayo – wastewater management.

  • East Cork Landfill Site, Cork – landfill gas and leachate management.

  • Arran Chemical Company Ltd, Roscommon – emissions to air and groundwater.


Licensed facilities are identified as national priority sites for enforcement using a system developed by the EPA.

Points are allocated to each site based on compliance data such as complaints, incidents and non-compliances over the previous six months.

Sites which exceed a certain threshold become a national priority site and are targeted by the EPA for further enforcement action.

The farmer's daily wrap: lamb prices, milk production and Donegal wildfire
Here is your news round-up of the top five farming stories today, Monday 22 April.

Weather forecast

Tuesday morning will feature scattered heavy showers but it will be mainly dry for the afternoon/evening.

Met Éireann is forecasting hazy sunshine and another warm day, with top temperatures of 17°C to 21°C in light to moderate southeast breezes.

In the news

  • The Air Corps is to join fire brigades battling a Co Donegal gorse fire that began in the early hours of Monday.
  • Milk production in both New Zealand and the Netherlands has been tightening significantly in the first quarter of 2019.
  • The timing of two religious festivals, Easter and Ramadan, could bode well for lamb prices for the next five years.
  • The Department of Agriculture will host Basic Payment Scheme clinics in Offaly, Tipperary, Westmeath and Monaghn this week.
  • Watch potato, grain and beef farmer Mark McGurdy sow cereals through the night in Co Antrim.
  • - Coming up tomorrow, 23 April 2019:

  • Leitrim suckler farmer Karen McCabe on the never-ending battle with rushes, a weak calf and an unexpected win in the show ring.
  • The latest update from the BETTER farm beef programme from Matthew Halpin.
  • A look at what's happening on the international grain markets from Stephen Robb.