A coalition of environment and climate groups has issued recommendations for the agricultural sector that include requiring some dairy farmers to reduce their herd numbers and incentivising beef farmers to do the same.

The coalition also recommends phasing out "all environmentally harmful subsidies" and stopping the drainage of wetlands and peaty soils.

It also calls on the Government to scrap Bord Bia's Origin Green marketing strategy.

"Towards a New Agricultural and Food Policy for Ireland", which includes input from more than 70 organisations, has been jointly published by the Environmental Pillar, Stop Climate Chaos and the Sustainable Water Network (SWAN).

It follows the publication of the draft Agri-Food Strategy to 2030 by the Department of Agriculture.

Environmentalists had been on the committee but walked out in February, saying it had become clear it was "woefully inadequate to meet the social and environmental challenges" being faced.

Launching the environmental campaigners document, Sadhbh O'Neill, Policy Coordinator for Stop Climate Chaos, said of the Government's agri-food strategy: "If implemented [it] would only deliver a 10% reduction in methane emissions by 2030.

"That would mean the rest of the economy and society would have to slash emissions by 73% to meet our national target of halving emissions in that time. That’s not fair on anyone and would be particularly hard on low-income households."

The environment groups are calling for the agriculture sector to play its part in meeting the Government's climate targets, with their document saying: "Steadily and permanently reducing agricultural methane in the near-term with annual reductions in the order of 3-5% from 2022 to 2030 will be necessary to limit the overshoot of Ireland's national 'fair share’ of the remaining global carbon budget aligned with meeting the Paris Agreement commitments".

The Government's draft agri-food strategy places emphasis on carbon sequestration and the concept of carbon farming where farmers are rewarded for practices that capture carbon.

In contrast, the document from the environmental groups says while such policies are "highly important" they are "neither reliable nor permanent methods to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture or fossil fuel combustion".

On dairy herd numbers, it says there should be measures to limit and reverse the recent expansion in the dairy sector and emissions from dairy should be brought back to 2011 levels by 2025 or soon as possible thereafter.

These measures would include a requirement for dairy farmers "to reduce their herds and stocking rates to the level consistent with local environmental, and national ammonia and climate constraints".

It also calls for compensatory measures to facilitate and incentivise herd reductions and diversification in the beef suckler and finishing sectors.

It argues that farmers relying on CAP payments for the bulk of their farm incomes should not be financially worse off by implementing herd reductions on a gradual basis.

The proposals also call for the Government to develop a just transition strategy for farmers, to halt and reverse water decline and to protect and restore biodiversity on farms.