Irish reactions to the Paris climate agreement
Seen from Ireland, Saturday's Paris Agreement on climate change has been described as “historic”, “pragmatic” or “weak”.

The world's nations adopted a global agreement on climate change in Paris on Saturday. It set targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions that will have significant implications for Ireland and its agriculture. Here are some Irish reactions to the deal.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly

“This historic deal ensures a truly multilateral response to one of the largest challenges facing humanity.”

“This Paris Agreement puts in place the necessary framework for all countries to take ambitious action, as well as providing for a transparency system that ensures we can all have confidence in each other’s progress.”

IFA environment chair Harold Kingston

“The reality that is accepted in the Paris agreement is that emission efficient regions such as Ireland must be supported to develop its food production.”

“However, farmers want to build on our strong environmental credentials. Ireland is the only country in the world that monitors, measures and manages carbon from farm to fork, through initiatives such as the IFA-led Smart Farming initiative and the Bord Bia beef and dairy carbon auditing schemes. These programmes are showing results. Emissions from the sector have fallen by 9% since 1990, while other sectors such as transport continue to spiral out of control.”

“The agri-food sector is Ireland’s largest indigenous sector, with over 300,000 people employed directly or indirectly in the agri-food industry. Exports from the sector reached a record high of nearly €10.5b in 2014. This high-quality food is produced to the highest environmental standards and farmers in Ireland intend to build on our position as global leaders of sustainably-produced food.”

Environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth Ireland

“The Paris Agreement is too weak to deliver climate justice and safety on its own. The gap between ambition and action in the deal is too big,” said chair Cara Augustenborg.

“The latest figures from the EPA indicate that Irish emissions in 2014 were still marginally above what they were in 1990,” added director Oisín Coghlan. “With the Government so far exempting agriculture for making any pollution cuts that puts huge pressure on home-owners, businesses, transport and power generation to reduce their emissions. Otherwise the taxpayer faces fines running into billions of euro from 2020.”

“In the New Year the focus shifts to the negotiations in Brussels between EU member states on national targets for 2030. While Ireland continues to plead for special treatment for Irish agri-business, I see no reason to believe that either the Commission or other member states will be any mood to reward Irish inaction, especially now that we are the fastest growing economy in Europe.”

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Beef and dairy bosses demand Brexit action from Creed
Imposing tariffs on exports would "cripple trade", meat and dairy factory representatives have warned.

Beef and dairy bosses braced for a hard Brexit have handed a list of demands to Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.

With 65 days remaining to salvage a Brexit deal, the nightmare scenario of a no-deal is becoming ever more likely.

A delegation including Aurivo’s Aaron Forde, ABP’s Martin Kane, Larry Murrin of Dawn Farms Foods, Cormac Healy of Meat Industry Ireland and Conor Mulvihill of Dairy Industry Ireland, met with Minister Creed on Tuesday.

Dairy co-ops want dual British-Irish status for Northern Ireland milk, export refunds and other trade supports. They called for a freeze on tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit and direct income aid for farmers.

Meat factory representatives warned that if tariffs are imposed on exports to the UK “it would cripple trade”, with the additional danger of sterling devaluation in a no-deal outcome.

They called for extra resources to ensure speedy border checks and increased ferry capacity and routes for direct shipping to the continent.

While European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan reassured farmers Brussels is poised to swoop to their aid, a Commission spokesman confirmed a hard border is inevitable unless the British reach an agreement with the EU or delay their withdrawal.

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No-deal Brexit to add 21c/l in cheddar processing costs

EU 'stands ready' to support farmers - Hogan
European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has assured farmers that Europe is planning for all possible outcomes from Brexit negotiations.

European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has moved to reassure farmers that the EU stands ready to intervene in markets to protect prices in the event of a hard Brexit.

“We have to prepare for the worst. The European Union stands ready to help Irish and EU farmers in the event of a hard Brexit,” Commissioner Hogan said, addressing a crowd of more than 250 farmers at the Kilkenny IFA annual dinner dance on Saturday night.

“We have the tools ready to intervene, including Aid to Private Storage, intervention and a revision of state aid rules,” he added.

Slow

His words will help give farmers comfort that, while Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has been slow to commit to supports, plans for a safety net at EU level are well advanced.

Hogan reassured farmers that the EU is ready for all scenarios, but warned that the Government must also be ready and ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place to ensure products can continue to move through ports.

Gloomy

While a no-deal Brexit paints a gloomy picture, vice president of the European Parliament Mairead McGuinness is reminding farmers that it could be avoided if a deal is reached between the EU and UK. But, she says, plans are being put in place to deal with a no-deal scenario.

“There are deep concerns about the consequences,” McGuinness told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“We will need to be looking at how you are going to support a vulnerable sector, that will call for money.

"All of those things will have to be discussed in the short period of time before the United Kingdom leaves.”

Lamb prices rocketing ahead
The trade for all types of lamb is strong currently boosting farmers' confidence in the sector.

Factory agents are scouring the country in the hunt for slaughter-fit lambs.

Prices have hardened significantly over the past number of weeks.

Farmers are securing €5.25/kg to €5.30/kg, with specialised feeders negotiating in excess of €5.40/kg for lambs.

The mart trade is booming for all types of lambs currently.

Fleshed factory-fit lambs are selling over €120/head, with €125/head common for lambs weighing over 50kg.

The store lamb trade is on fire, with prices of €2.50/kg to €2.80/kg and higher being recognised for hill-bred lambs.