At the same time as NI farmers are being told that dairy, beef and sheep farming will virtually have to end in order to meet climate change targets, it is a different story in Brazil, which hopes to add another 24m cattle to its herd over the next 10 years.

The doomsday scenario for the NI livestock industry is set out in an analysis conducted by business consultancy firm KPMG, who were asked by various agri-food organisations to assess the potential impact of a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2045.

That target is included in draft legislation currently with MLAs at Stormont, and is supported by all the major political parties outside of the DUP.

The KPMG analysis suggests that to hit a net zero target by 2045, NI will have to reduce cattle and sheep numbers by 86%. That would leave just 44,000 dairy cows in 2045, along with 180,000 other cattle and a total sheep flock of only 276,000.

The total NI cattle population would fall from 1.6m to just 224,000.

Meanwhile in Brazil, ABIEC, the Brazilian beef exporters association, has released a report setting out projections for the next 10 years.

The document puts the Brazilian herd at 188m cattle in 2020, growing to 199m head by 2025 and 212m by 2030, a 24m increase. That increase alone is 15 times the size of the current cattle population in NI.

In 2020, Brazilian factories processed 41.5m head. This is forecast to rise to 46.8m by 2025 and reach 51.8m in 2030.

According to the ABIEC report, the industry in Brazil can achieve this increase through technological advances and utilising existing pasture, not by further destruction of protected land (rainforest).

But either way, various studies have shown that the carbon footprint of South American beef is significantly higher than in the UK or Ireland. The latest figures from the United Nations put the average carbon footprint of beef produced in Western Europe at 2.5x below the global average and over 3x less than beef produced in Latin America.

If NI farmers are forced out of business, leaving a gap in the British market to be exploited by Brazilian beef, it won’t do much for climate change.