Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Questions (56)

Mick Wallace


56. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on to the report commissioned by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Parliament in 2017 (details supplied); if he has empirical evidence to counter the findings of the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5675/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I am aware of this report and my officials have reviewed the findings and the underlying assumptions and methodology.

Different reports use different boundaries for life cycle analyses and hence differing results; life cycle analyses is a complex area of measurement and are useful in determining carbon footprints of animal systems but should not be considered static Rather, this form of analysis is an instrument to help assist with further improvements in the efficiency of agriculture production systems.

The finding that Ireland emits more greenhouse gas emissions per euro of agricultural output than any other EU member state is based on an accepted OECD indicator at international level to monitor green growth. However, it is important to note that this is not a measure of a typical carbon footprint per unit of agricultural output (per kg meat or milk) nor is it an indicator of climate inefficiency.

Further, the assessment in the referred report excludes Land use change (LULUCF) emissions and removals (CO2 ) from cropland and grassland also associated with agricultural activities, only including methane and nitrous oxide. This is in contrast to typical life cycle analysis that includes all emissions including those in the LULUCF category under the Inventory framework.

The European Parliament Report shows that Ireland has gained productivity efficiency with respect to greenhouse gases (GHGs). The FAO has also recognised the efficiency of our temperate grassland based production systems. Evidence of this is further reflected in the EU Joint Research Centre Report (2010) which illustrated that while intensive dairy systems create less methane and nitrous oxide emissions than extensive ones, this is countered by higher emissions from land use and land use change. Lowest emissions are created by extensive grassland systems, such as those in Ireland.

Overall, I believe Ireland is in a good position with regard to utilising the value of life cycle assessments. Under Origin Green programme, over 200,000 carbon audits have been completed on Irish dairy and beef farms since its introduction. Additionally, through the use of the Carbon Navigator, farmers are provided with advice and feedback on practices that effectively reduce the carbon-footprint of farm produce, and improve the economic performance at farm level.