Cork farmers think animal husbandry is inevitable under climate plan

The agriculture deal, agreed between the environment minister, Eamon Ryan, and the agriculture minister, Charlie McConaughey, seems to suggest that farmers have no choice but to kill animals if greenhouse-gas-emissions reduction targets are to be met, An award winning middle – cork farmer warns.

Revere Crowley, who won the Board’s Bea Dairy Origin Green Farmer Award in 2018, said he was “frustrated” when he saw details of the proposed deal agreed by Minister Ryan and Minister McConaughey, which seeks to achieve a 25 percent reduction. . in greenhouse-gas emissions from farming by 2030.

“From what I can gather, there are proposals to encourage afforestation and re-wetting marshlands and installing solar panels on the farm, but none of that credit is going to the farmer – this farmer. The only option seems to be to eliminate your herd to cut your emissions,” he said.

Mr. Crowley said he was always optimistic that a settlement was quite possible; One that would bridge the gap between Minister Ryan, who is demanding a 30 percent cut, and Minister McConaughey, who is arguing for the current 22 percent target.

And he suggested that farmers get grant-in-aid to install solar panels on their sheds and wind turbines on their land to feed into the electricity grid. They can be given credit for these measures and for planting trees to isolate carbon dioxide, which will help combat greenhouse-gas emissions.

Mr Crowley, who milks 160 Friesians at his 180-acre holding in Hornhill, Lysarda, in the heart of Cork, was equally optimistic that farmers could reduce both methane and ammonia emissions from their holdings, while allowing farmers to Can’t be forced to cut down on your flock of dairy and beef. animals.

He cited his own experience, in which he reduced his carbon footprint from 1.26 kg per kg of milk solids in 2015 to 0.83 kg per kg of milk solids last year, according to his most recent board audit, and he said that He believes other farmers were similarly focused on reducing their carbon footprint.

“No one in farming is denying climate change, every farmer I meet is just like me, we all know our responsibilities to try and reduce our carbon footprint; in every meeting we Every publication that we pick up is out there, you would want to be under a stone to recognize it,” he said.

“And the comrades are ready to face the challenge, but at this point the whole debate has turned against us, and we feel that we are almost being defamed, if you look at the statistics, you can see that we are making progress. And there should be options open to us other than extracting herd numbers.”

According to the EPA report published last month, agriculture accounted for 37.5 percent of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 – well ahead of transport at 17.7 percent, the energy industry at 16.7 percent, residential at 11.4 percent and combustion manufacturing at 7.5 percent. Percent

And the EPA further reported that last year within agriculture, greenhouse-gas emissions increased by three percent — a 19.3 percent increase since 2011 — by 5.2 percent in fertilizer use, a 2.8 percent increase in dairy-cow numbers. Hui. And milk production is increasing by 5.5 percent.

Within agriculture, about 60 percent of emissions are due to intestinal fermentation – or the discharge of methane by ruminants such as cows and sheep – while agricultural soils including synthetic fertilizer use accounted for 21.78 percent and manure management accounts for 11.72 percent. Percent.

But Mr. Crowley pointed to his own experience and explained how, using an Aeromix aeration system on Galway firm Easyfix’s solution, as well as Low Emissions Slurry Spreading (LESS) technology – which could reduce ammonia emissions by up to 60 percent. can – reduce its carbon footprint.

The use of the Aeromix aeration system gives a better nutrient mix to the slurry and reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers by about 25 percent, while the use of low-tech means the slurry goes into the ground faster so that cattle can be fed with hay. to be inserted into. Soon. It also gives better grasslands.

Mr. Crowley offered all of this as evidence of how agriculture is coping with the challenges posed by climate change, and said he could see further progress in the coming years, especially when issues of enteric fermentation When it comes to addressing, which accounts for more than 60. percentage of emissions.

“It comes down to how you stop animals exhaling methane, but the solution is in the feedstuff and what additives you put in and there is a lot of progress being made by Teagask and others in developing additives from seaweed and enzymes. who will cut such emissions,” he said.

Mr Crowley said that if the national herd, which currently stands at 7.3 million cattle, is to be slaughtered, it must be done on a voluntary rather than mandatory basis.

He thinks Food Vision Dairy Group’s proposal has merit to offer farmers €5,000 for each animal killed.

He said the proposal, published in last week’s Farmers Journal, should prove an attractive option for older farmers who wish to exit the industry, even if it is of little attraction to him or his son Gavin (24). Ho, the fifth generation of the Crawley family cultivated in Hornhill.

“I’m 61 and we’re standing, I’m viable, but if I cut my herd by 20 to 30 percent, we’d only be viable as long as there’s some compensation, but you don’t get a huge increase.” The number of animals will be visible from here because most of the companions have reached where they want to be,” said Mr. Crowley.

“In fact, you are likely to see a decrease in numbers due to the aging profile of farmers, and this is where paying €5,000 per animal could prove very attractive to older people who want to get out of farming. There is a certain proportion farmers of a certain age who will take it.

“Farming isn’t attracting young people – it’s as simple as that, which is sad, and as the age profile goes up, that will be inevitable and the number of farms will start to drop, so you’re likely to get cuts at the national level.” Anyway swarm – we have probably seen swarm numbers reach their peak.

“You have to attract young people into farming, and they will be better educated – Gavin has a lot more courses than I do, but I think his generation will accept the emissions challenge and take it to a whole new level – They will look for solutions while we see a problem.”