Graph: Ireland's share of greenhouse gases from agriculture highest in EU
A recent publication from Eurostat shows that 30.7% of all greenhouse gases emitted in Ireland come from the agricultural sector, making it the highest percentage of any EU country.

In 2012, Ireland produced 58.5m tonnes of greenhouse gas emissons, well back on that of other EU countries. Germany and France combined produce over 1,500m tonnes, according to Eurostat’s latest report on agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics.

However, when it comes to percentage of greenhouse gas emissions as a direct result of agriculture, Ireland came top with 30.7%. The average for the EU 28 stands at 10.35% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

In contrast, the lowest contributor from agriculture was Malta, at 2.5% of their 3.1m tonnes.

These figures reflect the relative importance of the livestock industry to Ireland’s agricultural sector and general economy, as well as the relatively low level of greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland from other sectors (such as energy production or transport).

The Government and farming organisations have been putting this argument forward to argue specific consideration for Irish agriculture in climate negotiations. Many environmentalists, however, argue that no country or sector should get special treatment if progress in tackling climate change is to be achieved.

The graph above illustrates the challenges ahead for Irish agriculture as the European Union sets mandatory emissions reductions targets until 2030 this year.

IFA environment chairman Thomas Cooney has called on European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan to intervene directly in the current EU discussions taking place on ammonia and greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and said: “It is essential that past mistakes are not repeated, and Ireland’s 2030 targets must be deliverable and have regard to the multifunctional roles of the agri-food sector, which include food, fuel and energy production, as well as environmental protection.”

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Full coverage: agriculture and climate change

Man dies following Offaly farm accident
Gardaí were called to a farm accident in Kinnitty, near Birr, Co Offaly, on Wednesday.

A man in his 50s has passed away as a result of injuries he sustained while on a Co Offaly farm. On Wednesday last, gardaí were called to the farm accident, which happened in Kinnitty, near Birr in the county.

He was removed to Tullamore Hospital and later transferred to Beaumont Hospital, where he passed away on Friday 20 July. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and local coroner have been notified and investigations are ongoing, a Garda spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.

Farm Safety Week

It is the third farm fatality this week, which is Farm Safety Week. A woman in her 50s died in Galway following an accident with livestock earlier in the week and a man in his 90s died in Kerry following an accident involving machinery.

It brings to 18 the number of people who have died on farms to date in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland this year.

Listen: doubling feed capacity at Drinagh Co-op
New feed mill in Drinagh opened by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

A new €3.75m feed mill extension was officially opened by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Drinagh Co-op, Co Cork, on Friday.

Speaking at the opening, An Taoiseach commented on the timely opening of the new feed mill given that two extreme weather events this year have increased demand for animal feed.

Listen to "Doubling feed capacity at Drinagh Co-op" on Spreaker.

It was a sentiment echoed by Drinagh CEO Joe O'Sullivan, who said that current drought conditions have almost doubled demand for feed compared to this time last year.

West Cork is a renowned dairy region and the new feed mill is aimed at supporting expansion in the area.

"This investment will stand us in good stead for many years to come," O'Sullivan told the Irish Farmers Journal.

"This has doubled our production, from about 60,000t to 120,000t."

O'Sullivan also commented that many farmers were finding drought conditions difficult on top of the prolonged spring, with some farmers considering their herd numbers.

"What I see now from the difficulties from the spring and the summer are guys taking stock and maybe thinking of cutting back.

I think our price now is over the market, but hopefully if the market comes up a bit we can sustain this price for the autumn

"But then again farmers have a short memory if this present drought sorted itself out and if they got a good autumn and a good milk price then I think they’d look at next year a different way but I think they’re going to take stock in terms of potential into the future."

With an ongoing discussion around genetically modified (GM) feed and a growing consumer awareness and concern around processed or organic food, O'Sullivan pointed out that the west Cork co-op was considering future options around the feed issue.

"That’s [GM feed] been looked at in the whole west Cork scenario in terms of GM feed and there’s a working group looking at that at the moment. We’ll see what comes out of it," O'Sullivan said, adding that he had hopes that milk prices would continue to strengthen.

"There are some signs now that the market is firming up.

"I think our price now is over the market, but hopefully if the market comes up a bit we can sustain this price for the autumn, and if that happens, who knows, maybe next spring might be on the same level, so it’s somewhat positive in terms of the whole supply and demand situation in the world.

"The positives are slightly stronger than the negatives."

The whole Brexit thing is so mixed up right now that you’re better off not even thinking about it

Brexit concerns

With a large proportion of the co-op's milk going to make cheese for Carbery that will be sold in the UK, Brexit remains a major issue for the co-op. But O'Sullivan pointed out that it's hard to plan for something that hasn't been decided yet.

"It’s a huge source of concern to us because in west Cork especially, through Carbery Food Ingredients, we’re very dependent on cheddar cheese going to the UK market," O'Sullivan told the Irish Farmers Journal.

"But the whole Brexit thing is so mixed up right now that you’re better off not even thinking about it, we have to plan for the worst, we have to look at product fix and maybe less dependence on cheddar cheese."

The overhanging stocks of skimmed milk powder (SMP) are also an area of concern and O'Sullivan has welcomed the announcement that the European Commission is to start selling two lots a month from the 280,000t stored in intervention.

"Anything that’ll get rid of some that stock, that stock is overhanging the market, causing a negative effects," O'Sullivan said.

"It would be great to see two quotations a month and hopefully get the stock down and we can look forward then to next year with a bit of optimism again."

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