Following detailed analysis of the recently published report by the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) INHFA President Colm O’Donnell has called on Minister Richard Bruton to suspend the advisory committee pending a review. In recommending a possible cut of up to 52% in suckler cow numbers while giving the dairy sector a free pass O’Donnell stated “that the credibility of the CCAC has being damaged and we now need to reassess all aspects relating to this committee including their science.”
In addressing the findings from the report O’Donnell stressed the need to clarify the analysis conducted in reaching the final conclusions. With regard to our suckler sector he questioned “if there are any Irish studies conducted in relation to green house gas (GHG) emissions on suckler systems that also factors in what carbon these lands sequesters and if there are similar studies for our sheep and dairy sectors.”
With regard to the dairy sector he added “how we need a full explanation on how emissions in this sector are calculated and if they include the full life cycle of the dairy cow or is it only based on milk solids produced through her lactation periods. In addition to this we need to see if, other embedded emissions generated throughout dairy products total life cycle are included such as the feeding of soya bean, higher electricity costs involved in cooling, transportation costs and production costs of any final product that should also factor in packaging, disposal and recycling.”
The contradictory nature of the report continued O’Donnell “is very evident in its call for a reduction in the national suckler herd to address an issue caused mainly by the dairy sector that being the reduction of GHG emissions to help combat localised environmental degradation on farms where intensive production and high ammonia emissions are polluting the atmosphere.”
Another issue in this report the organisation finds unacceptable is their proposal for a reduction in the suckler sector based on its profitability. On this O’Donnell first pointed to the organisations 10 point plan to develop our suckler sector. In this he stated “how just one aspect of this, namely the rebranding of our suckler beef to recognise a naturally reared product with a lower carbon footprint has the potential to address many of the issues around profitability.”
In addition to this he questioned why profitability is even being used and suggested “that coal is still the most financially efficient means of producing electricity but no one is suggesting this as a viable option in terms of addressing the climate change challenge.”
The farm leader concluded by, reiterating his call for the suspension of the CCAC pending a full assessment of all facts relating to agriculture.