Galway-Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice has lashed out at environmental groups in Ireland and abroad for trying to “discredit” Irish agriculture.
The Independent TD was speaking after the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation labelled Ireland the most carbon-intensive beef producer in the world, and the third most intensive dairy producer.
Commenting on the matter, Michael Fitzmaurice said: “The environmental lobbies seem hell-bent on trying to discredit Irish agriculture. “
“In my opinion, there are people partaking in these studies who don’t fully understand the ins and outs of the Irish agricultural system.”
“Anyone who can stand there and tell me that cattle which are kept in a shed 24/7, 365 days a year, in a country such as Holland, for example, are more carbon friendly than cattle which are running around a field in Ireland obviously hasn’t fully explored the required depths of a study.”
John Gibbons, An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee spokesperson said that the beef industry in Ireland has long argued that it is more efficient that EU counterparts using “outdated” data from 2004.
He added that “climate action requires reduction of total agricultural sector emissions, so even if emissions intensity improves, any overall increase in production wipes out any saving.”
“The primary drivers for Ireland’s increasing agriculture emissions are the rapidly increasing use of fossil-fuel derived nitrogen fertiliser, which boosts grass growth, and ever more concentrate feed per head.”
“Climate action requires limits on production or on total fertiliser and feed usage; otherwise efficiency gains, if any, will have no effect.”
Deputy Fitzmaurice dismissed these claims, claiming it’s obvious grass reared cattle are more carbon friendly than cattle kept indoors, even if An Taisce likes to “jump up and down” about reports such as the one from the FAO.
“There seems to be a renewed focus by environmental groups, in Ireland and indeed in other parts of the world, to try and undermine the quality of beef, sheep and dairy produced in this country,” he said.
Deputy Fitzmaurice concluded by saying that farmers will “struggle to reach a bed at night over the next few weeks” during the lambing and calving seasons while “keyboard warriors” finish up at 5pm.