Cattle and dairy farms with 150 cows, or more, may need to hold environmental permits in future, under a European Commission proposal.

Pig and poultry farms with over 300 sows or almost 11,000 layers could also need such a permit under the proposal, which falls under the EU’s industrial emissions directive.

An earlier draft of the proposal had suggested that farms with over 100 livestock units (over 100 cows) would need permits.

However, this has increased to 150 livestock units.

Operating rules for livestock farms “will take into consideration not only the nature, type, size and density but also the complexity of these installations and the range of environmental impacts they may have, together with economical aspects”.

This, it said, will allow establishing proportionate requirements for different farming practices (intensive, extensive, organic), including by taking into account the specificities of pasture-based cattle-rearing systems. Farmers applying for permits will have to include the number and types of animals on the holding and the sources of emissions from the farm.

The proposal states that permits “shall be made available to the public on the internet, free of charge”.


It also states that rules around compliance with the permit will be tightened and in the event of a permit being breached, farming on these livestock, pig and poultry farms could be suspended.

IFA president Tim Cullinan said it is “outrageous to be including livestock grazing in fields within the scope of this directive, as well as drastically cutting the limits on the pig and poultry sectors”. He called for the proposal to be binned.

Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey told the Irish Farmers Journal that the proposals are a “further bureaucractic burden” on farmers and that an “ordinary farmer getting on with his own private affairs will be open to public scrutiny”.

Macra president John Keane said that the “proposed permits in no way reflect or apply to Irish family farms”.