Mixed feelings as climate talks enter crunch phase
With one day left before the 11 December deadline for an agreement at the Paris climate summit, momentum is building for a deal but ambitions and references to agriculture have been watered down.

Delegates from nearly 200 countries are holding more and more late-night sessions to seal an agreement by Friday evening, and sending out positive signals that success is in sight.

Yet key issues remain to be decided, such as the overall global warming cap for this century (+1.5°C or +2°C) and how to raise $100bn per year to help poorer countries cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

The text still recognises “the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security” and includes a commitment to “pursue sustainable development in a manner that fosters climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions, and that does not threaten food production and distribution”.

However, all mentions of “land use”, covering industries such as agriculture and forestry, have been removed from the latest draft. A number of emerging food-producing countries such as Argentina opposed any such explicit references to agriculture’s contribution to climate change mitigation.

Implicit mention of agriculture

Instead, land-based industries are mentioned in a roundabout way through a reference to “sinks and reservoirs” of carbon as defined by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which “include[es] biomass, forests and oceans as well as other terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems”.

In the Irish delegation, this is regarded as a reasonable outcome considering initial disagreements. Farming organisations, however, are still pushing for a stronger mention of agriculture that would provide a level playing field and help farmers in poorer countries face climate challenges.

Listen to an interview with World Farmers Organisation president Evelyn Nguleka in our podcast below:

Environmentalists, too, are keeping pressure on negotiators in the final hours of the talks. They staged a protest at the site of the conference against the weaknesses in the latest draft agreement on Wednesday evening. “This draft text is long on aspiration but very short on action. The platitudes of the political speeches have not translated into concrete pledges of action back home,” said Friends of the Earth Ireland chair Cara Augustenborg.

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Full coverage: agriculture and climate change

How much carbon is in my milk?
Relating greenhouse gas emissions to each unit of agricultural production can help buyers choose the most carbon-efficient products, with Irish milk's carbon intensity the lowest in the EU.

Northern Ireland's Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has published its carbon intensity indicators for 2016, showing that 1kg of milk at standard fat and protein content was associated with greenhouse gas emissions of 1.285kg carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

This is a reduction of one third on 1990 levels.

"Whilst milk production in the dairy sector has expanded by 66% since 1990, the total number of dairy cows over this period has remained relatively static, meaning this improvement has been driven by substantial increases in milk yield per cow," according to a DAERA statement . The carbon efficiency of milk has also improved faster than the rest of Northern Ireland's economy.


In the Republic, emissions from 1kg of standard milk amounted to 1.14kg CO2e. While there's no recent European comparison, a 2011 official study found the Irish carbon intensity of milk to be the lowest in the EU.

Meanwhile, 1kg of Irish beef was responsible for 11.58kg of emissions in 2016. Those values continue to improve every year.

Read a full explanation of the way greenhouse gas emissions are calculated in Thursday's Irish Farmers Journal.

The farmer's daily wrap: Delvin Mart canteen rodent problem and details of EID
Catch up with all the top headlines and get a look ahead at tomorrow's weather.

Weather forecast

Tonight will become quite windy, with freshening southerly breezes.

It will be predominantly dry, but there will be a few patches of rain and drizzle about.

Minimum temperatures of 5°C to 9°C, according to Met Éireann.

Tuesday will see a dry day in many central and eastern counties.

Rain will extend across most of Munster and Connacht by the afternoon.

Rain will then gradually spread eastwards during the evening, with some heavy bursts possible.

Highest temperatures of 10°C to 13°C in moderate to fresh south to southeast winds.

In the news

  • Problems with rodents have led to the closure of Delvin Mart canteen.
  • Information leaflets on new EID tagging regulations are to be sent out with Sheep and Goat Census forms.
  • Concerns mount as the clock continues to countdown to March 2019, when the UK is expected to have an approved exit plan in place and Theresa May has deferred a Brexit vote in the Commons.
  • Patrick Hurley of Carhoogarriffe, Leap, Co Cork, appeared at Kenmare District Court last week, accused of stealing cash from a 93-year-old Kenmare man.
  • The new assistant principal in Kildalton qualified in Wales and previously held the role of lecturer in dairy production.
    Vet practice pulled up for supplying ‘unauthorised’ products
    The veterinary practice has been issued with an improvement notice for the wholesale selling of unauthorised veterinary medicinal products.

    The Ballygawley Veterinary Clinic in Northern Ireland has been issued with an improvement notice after being found to be contravening a number of regulations.

    The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) in the UK stated that it had found the practice to be supplying unauthorised veterinary medicine.

    There were no Republic of Ireland farms involved in the notice

    The VMD stated it had discovered: “Wholesale dealing of unauthorised veterinary medicinal products to other veterinary practice premises without a wholesale dealer's licence.”

    The practice had also been found to be supplying farms with veterinary medicine without sufficient evidence that the animals were under the care of vets or that a clinical assessment of the animals had been carried out.

    Although there had been some concern that sales of unauthorised veterinary products were travelling south of the border, a spokesperson for the VMD stated: “I can confirm that there were no Republic of Ireland farms involved in the notice concerning Ballygawley Veterinary Clinic.”


    The VMD stated that a number of improvements needed to be made by the practice.

    All wholesale activities must cease and all supplies of Singvac and Botulism Vaccine must have a valid special treatment certificate and must only be supplied to the named farm with the volume stated on the certificate.

    “All supplies must cease until such time as procedures have been implemented to ensure that all supplies occur in accordance with the certificates,” the VMD stated.

    Adequate records must be put in place to show that antibiotics prescribed to animals were needed, according to the VMD.

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