Calls for grass-based dairy and cattle farms with more than 150 animals to be exempted from the eco-permitting system


Grass-based farms should be exempt from EU proposals aimed at introducing an environmental permit scheme for some dairy and cattle farms under the bloc’s Industrial Emissions Directive.

Although the proposed stocking threshold for certain farms was raised from 100 to 150 livestock units in the final proposal, farm organizations claim that such a rule would be ‘irrational’ and ‘unworkable’ on Irish farms.

The first debate on the proposed changes is expected to take place this autumn before the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee.

Midlands North West MEP Colm Markey said: “There are two key points to this directive. First, the stocking density of 150 livestock units will hit family farms and they will need to be exempted or the target raised in line with a more industrial farm.

“Second, this ultimately includes barn units – similar to a pig and poultry station. A grass based system and animals that are only kept for part of the year – certainly less than six months – need to be recognized which should be treated differently.

“I would like clarity on this issue and if possible these types of establishments should be exempted or derogated as the animals are not housed in one industrial facility all year round.”

IFA raised the matter with EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski when he addressed the federation’s National Council recently.

A spokesman said: “The commissioner said it will now only affect a small number of farmers – six to seven per cent overall. He believed that this was all that could be achieved.

“The ongoing compliance costs and the new level of bureaucracy would be our greatest concern.

“The fact that the vast majority of farmers are using the grazing potential that we are privileged to have in Ireland seems to have been lost in the overall policy.”

ICMSA President Pat McCormack lobbied EU officials in Brussels last week.

“We reject that this directive will psychologically position agriculture as a subject of industrial regulatory frameworks. It all seems to be part of this relentless agenda to reclassify agriculture and food production as some sort of “problem” that needs to be regulated.” Calls for grass-based dairy and cattle farms with more than 150 animals to be exempted from the eco-permitting system

Fry Electronics Team

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