Farm Emissions – ICMSA say rigid target reductions will be overtaken by science – “Transition should be flexible and responsive”

The President of ICMSA has said that the reported cuts in agri-related emissions will be “a huge challenge and one that can only be contemplated – much less achieved – with massive support and commitment from every level of Government in Ireland”.   Mr. Pat McCormack said that his Association was convinced that it was possible to continue developing our farming sector while simultaneously cutting agri emissions and said the notion that farming had to come to a ‘Full Stop’ while the emission lowering programme accelerated is neither possible or even desirable.

Mr. McCormack said that sector needed an approach to the transition that was flexible and responsive to a situation that he was certain would change dramatically as already introduced measures fed through. He said that a whole spectrum of measures and practices will lead to reduced emissions and that trend would accelerate.  In that context, it would be both prudent and practical to keep a degree of flexibility that would allow us to adjust our programme on an ongoing basis.  It would be a fundamental error, he said, to lock a dynamic sector like farming and food production into a rigid five-year programme.

“We think that the worst thing Irish farming and agri-food can do now is nail ourselves to a rigid programme that we all know will be overtaken by science and data over the next few years.   We already know that the reductions under the Teagasc MACC will be delivered and we already know that research is well under way on similar projects that will lower emissions without affecting cow numbers and production volumes.  ICMSA believes that this has to be a ‘Moving Target’ scenario where we can all see over a three-year period where the data is going and where we will have to maybe go harder or ease back”, he said.    

On the question of Government support for the sector, the ICMSA President was scathing: “Well, if the level of support we got in last week’s Budget was any indicator, Ireland hasn’t a hope of hitting these reductions.    There’s a time when the Government has to stop preaching and start spending and we are at the point now – in fact, we passed it some time ago.   Direct supports to farmers are being cut relentlessly at the same time as we have this curious official reluctance to ensure that farmers receive the real price for their food products.   The Government either can’t or won’t confirm the end of the ‘Cheap Food’ policy because they are nervous about the current inflationary trend.   But something’s got to give here: if the cost of producing food is going to go up – and it most certainly is – then direct supports need to increase and the prices farmers receive are going to have to go up.   It’s a very basic economic sequence and the Government’s nervousness about recognising it is the rock on which all this is going to flounder”, said the ICMSA President.   

Mr. McCormack said that with an announcement on CAP spending expected on Wednesday, farmers and rural Ireland in general will be perfectly positioned to measure the Government’s commitment and whether or not the major support programme for agriculture that is clearly required is going to happen.

Ends        18 October 2021

Pat McCormack, 087-7608958

President, ICMSA.


Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758

ICMSA Press Office