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Ministers welcome EPA’s report highlighting reduced Greenhouse gas emissions from Agriculture in 2023

Ministers for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D, Martin Heydon T.D and Senator Pippa Hackett, today welcomed the publication of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Provisional Greenhouse Gas Emissions for 2023. The report highlights a national reduction in emissions of 6.8% (-4.0 Mt CO2eq) year on year.

“These figures are really welcome and they are a testament to the good work being done by farmers right across the country."

Emissions from Agriculture decreased by 4.6% (-1.0 Mt CO2eq) in 2023. This is primarily driven by reduced fertiliser nitrogen use and reduced liming.

Commenting on the figures the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, T.D, said: “The emission reduction figures for 2023 from the EPA’s Provisional Greenhouse Gas Emissions are very positive. They show that agriculture is on the right path, especially following on from reductions in 2022. It is very encouraging to see the work that farmers are putting in on the ground reflected in the results. It’s important that we maintain this positive trajectory and continue in our efforts to achieve the commitment of a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for agriculture by 2030.”

Agriculture has laid a solid foundation to deliver a downwards emission trajectory over the coming years. Policies and strategies are bearing fruit with emissions from Agriculture trending downwards. These include measures such as genotyping of 740,000 calves, promoting the use of renewable energy on farms, reducing the use of fertilisers and pesticides, improving soil health and promoting biodiversity. The use of chemical nitrogen in 2023 reduced by 18%.

Minister Hackett commented “These figures are really welcome and they are a testament to the good work being done by farmers right across the country. We need to sustain this reduction, and we need to continue rolling out schemes that we know are successful and that we know will reduce the need for chemical nitrogen. The organic farming scheme, the protein aid scheme, and the multi species sward and red clover silage measures have all played a critical role here, so we should keep expanding them. The area of land farmed organically has trebled to 225,500ha (5% of land area) in 3 years, meaning that we are halfway to achieving our 2030 target of 10% of Irish agricultural land being farmed organically – I am excited to keep that good work going.”

This year has seen the finalisation of the National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory, supplying the scientific infrastructure to measure GHG fluxes from soils under agricultural management. This project is placing Ireland at the forefront of EU carbon sequestration research.

Minister Heydon said: "My Department has committed funding to greatly accelerate the development of AgNav, this platform is a collaboration between Teagasc, the Irish Cattle Breeding Association (ICBF) and Bord Bia. AgNav provides a whole farm sustainability assessment and includes a decision support function that allows science-led plans to be made for individual farms to reduce emissions and increase carbon sequestration.”

Minister McConalogue highlighted the important collaborative work of his Department, Teagasc and the EPA in refining the Inventory. These inventory refinements have led to adjustments in relation to the emissions related to live weight and average daily weight gain. The revised approach also better tracks the changes in slaughter age that have occurred over the last decade or so.

The Minister commented that research supported by DAFM in the area of feed additives such as 3-Nitrooxypropanol, (3-NOP) means that these are now at the point of being ready to roll out onto Irish farms. 3NOP product has received European Food Safety Authority approval and has been trialled on 18 Teagasc Signpost farms in the winters if 2023 and 2024. Results show up to a 30% reduction in Methane indoors.

“We will continue to support the advancement of technologies to ensure the continued positive emission trajectory of the agricultural sector. It is critical that we maintain food output whilst at the same time, reducing the climate footprint and I will continue to support farmers in delivering on this dual ambition. This is critical to maintaining a viable sector that is both economically and environmentally sustainable”, Minister McConalogue concluded.