Emissions from Agriculture in 2018 are now 1.1% above their 1990 levels and have increased for 6 out of the last 7 years. The changes in Agriculture emissions are underpinned by higher animal numbers; in the 5-year period 2013-2018, dairy cow numbers have increased by 26.9% with a corresponding milk production by 39.8% and nitrogenous fertiliser use increased by 15.7%. This reflects national plans to expand milk production under Food Wise 2025 and the removal of the milk quota in 2015 (EPA, 2020)

Agriculture sector emissions arise from enteric fermentation (methane emissions arising from digestive process in livestock), manure management and nitrogen and urea application to soils. In addition, fuel combustion from agriculture/forestry/fishing is included. This sector contributed over 33.8% of Ireland’s total emissions in 2018 (EPA, 2020).

Agricultural GHG emissions

Food Wise 2025 sets out a ten year plan for the agri-food sector. It underlines the sector’s unique and special position within the Irish economy, and it illustrates the potential which exists for this sector to grow even further.

The Food Wise 2025 strategy was agreed by a committee of 35 stakeholders from the agri-food sector. It foresees a sector that acts more strategically and achieves a competitive critical mass in the international marketplace while targeting more quality conscious consumers who will recognise and reward Ireland’s food producers for their sustainable production and high quality produce.

Environmental organisations criticised this report as the expansion the agriculture sector when it comprises such a large portion of our emissions. For example, An Taisce called the report 'fundamentally flawed and unfit for purpose' in their response

GHG projections provided to the EPA are based on an updated analysis undertaken by Teagasc of the projected national herd population, crop areas and fertiliser use which takes into account Food Wise 2025 policy targets and reflects trends in agricultural production at the time of preparing the projected activity data.

Ag-Climatise Report

In December 2020 the Department of Agriculture published their report to achieve 'climate neutral' agriculture by 2050, in line with the goals of the Paris agreement. The report outlines actions in carbon sequestration, selective breeding and fertilizer use (among others). It can be viewed here. 

The Environmental Pillar, an organisation of Irish environmental groups, called the report 'completely insufficient', and that it 'perpetuates business-as-usual practices that will continue to wreak havoc on our environment and prevent us from meeting our climate targets'. See more here

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