IFA President John Bryan has warned that the Government's draft climate change legislation surpasses international obligations and must be amended as it could cost €4bn in existing and planned production in the vital agri-food sector.
He commented, "the country cannot afford the loss of sustainable jobs and exports that will accrue from the Government's Food Harvest 2020 strategy, and a few Greens who no longer have a mandate from the public must not be allowed rush through ill-advised and badly thought out legislation."
Mr Bryan was particularly scathing of Environment Minister John Gormley's attempts to quote on radio the wishes of a couple of American multinationals to promote his climate change agenda, when the United States has shown by its own actions in Copenhagen and Cancun, that they have no intention of introducing legislation that would damage their economy.
"The irony is that food production here, which is carried out on a sustainable basis, would be replaced by countries which have a very poor record on the environment. Ireland's grass-based production system ensures that we produce beef and milk with lower carbon intensity than other exporting nations.
"Over the past 20 years emissions from milk and beef production have all declined in Ireland. We have a low carbon model of food production and Government policy must not undermine the sector's ability to drive exports and jobs as part of our economic recovery," he stated.
The IFA President criticised the emission reduction targets set out in the legislation, describing them as aspirational numbers which cannot be achieved unless the Government intends to slash the national beef and dairy herds.
"The ESRI have already said that it will be difficult to achieve the emission reduction obligations set out by the European Union. It is ludicrous to introduce notional targets now, which are unachievable and will damage the potential of the Irish agricultural sector to expand production as set out in the Food Harvest Report."