MII to actively support Government measures to drive down greenhouse gas emissions by 2030
Meat Industry Ireland (MII), on behalf of its member companies, will support measures to drive down greenhouse gas emissions, in line with today’s announcement by Government of a sector emissions ceiling for agriculture of 25% by 2030.
The early finishing of cattle is recognised in the Climate Action Plan as a key environmental lever for the beef sector, with a target set to reduce the average finishing age from 27 to 24 months. We are confident of achieving this, and, alongside genomic advances, will result in reducing some 1.2Mt CO2 equivalent GHG emissions by 2030. This would represent a significant portion of the overall emissions reductions target for the agriculture sector.
Suckler beef continues to be a major rural economy activity and a vital component of Ireland’s market proposition and must be maintained. It contributes to the livelihoods of 80,000 farmer suppliers and 16,000 employees working in the industry. In addition, dairy bred animals represent a large component of beef raw material. A closer partnership between beef and dairy production must be supported in actions that collectively drive better outcomes for both through - better breeding, including lower emitting animals and improving the efficiency of animal finishing - leading to better economic and environmental outcomes.
Accelerating genotyping of all calves at birth by 2025, and other well developed breeding techniques, will deliver efficient animals which meet market specifications at an earlier age, thereby improving both environmental and economic sustainability at farm level.
Philip Carroll, Chairman of Meat Industry Ireland, said: “While this target poses a difficult challenge to the agriculture sector, and for farmers in particular, our members will continue to do all within their control to assist the transition to a low carbon economy in the decades ahead. Being ambitious for change, the beef processing industry will continue to play a meaningful role in emissions reductions through enhancing our already strong reputation as one of the most sustainable producers of beef internationally.
“The transition that is necessary will lead to significant additional costs for the beef sector, but together with Government and our dedicated farmer suppliers, we can have a valuable partnership in advocating, developing, and implementing strategic programmes to drive down emissions. Targeted Government support measures for farmers to assist with this transition should be introduced as a matter of urgency.”
The biggest burden of climate mitigation will be faced by farmers who already make a huge contribution to our environment and are the mainstay of the rural economy. Their efforts have been essential to the development of the agri-food sector, supporting the delivering of some €13.5 billion of high-quality food exports to international markets in 2021. This huge national economic contribution is an essential part of the rural economy and must be preserved.
Reaching the Government’s sectoral emission ceiling for agriculture can be achieved by working in collaboration with Government and other stakeholders in the Food Vision Beef Group, to identify a pathway to delivering the ambition of making Ireland a world leader in sustainable food systems and thereby further strengthening our position in international markets.