Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the national herd "will remain stable" but that Ireland's food security is important within a European context.

Mr Martin said Ireland has one of the most efficient food production systems in terms of emissions globally.

He said the grass-based nature of our farming is a plus, but there is a lot of work to be done in reducing emission from the sector.

Speaking between events at COP26 - the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow - he said he would like to see more diverse activity on our farms and a food production system that is efficient in terms of emissions.

He also said he firmly believes that Ireland can get a lot of work done in reducing emissions from the beef and dairy sectors.

Work is already underway and Mr Martin said that research funding for the area will be "beefed up" as research and new technologies will have a tremendous impact.

But he added that new technologies will only get developed when the market can see the direction of travel and the focus of the private sector changes to fund more research and activity in the sector.

Dairy farmers say that Irish farmers want to be part of the changes needed to meet climate targets but fear a loss of earnings in delivering the efficiencies and changes required to bring about improvements.

The President of the The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association said that Irish farmers will listen to Taoiseach Micheal Martin's statement in Glasgow today with apprehension describing it as "three critical minutes for Irish agriculture".

Pat McCormack said that that an income stream from biodiversity would not offset the loss of earnings from changes to productivity.

Mr McCormack told the News at One that the Taoiseach has talked about a stabilised nation herd, which he said is critical and is the backbone of rural economies.

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He said the ICMSA does not accept that reaching a 30% reduction in methane emissions would mean reducing herd numbers.

Investment to reduce emissions on farms, including in the diets of animals, could potentially deliver significant reductions in methane, he stated.

He said that farmers are reducing emissions per kg of production, adding that leaders need to look to India, China and Russia to be included in any agreement aimed at reducing emissions.

Mr McCormack said that Irish farming is in a very good place from an efficiency point of view and delivers beef and dairy for export markets.

He also said the industry is working with co-ops and voluntary programmes to improve water quality in catchment areas and this scheme should be rolled out nationally.

The Government needs to support the dairy industry to become more climate friendly and efficient 'even though we are the best in Europe," he stated.