The Government's draft Agri-Food Strategy for 2030 is proposing a 10% cut in biogenic methane emissions from farming but does not say whether livestock numbers should rise, fall or stay at current levels.

The Department of Agriculture published the strategy on its website and is inviting submissions from the public and interested parties as part of a consultation process which runs until 15 June

On air quality the document proposes that ammonia emissions should reduce to below 107,500 tonnes by 2030 and on water quality that agriculture reduce nutrient losses to water by 50% over the same period.

It also suggests that 10% of farmed areas are prioritised for biodiversity, spread across all farms throughout the country.

On the issue of livestock numbers or the national herd, the draft notes that the Ag Climatise document published in December "makes clear that an increase in the national cattle herd above current levels will jeopardise the achievement of the sector attaining climate neutrality by 2050."

This current document does not say whether the expansion of livestock numbers should continue but proposes that detailed plans to manage the sustainable environmental footprint of the dairy and the beef sectors will be produced by the end of June next year.

Under the Climate Action Plan five year carbon budgets for each sector, including agriculture, will be allocated by the end of this year and the Department says the strategy cannot give a detailed plan of how to deliver a climate neutral sector by 2050.

The document says Ireland will advocate for sustainable food systems internationally and for the development of a recognised Sustainable Food System measurement or index.

It argues that stunted growth among children is highest in regions where dietary intakes of meat, dairy and fish are lowest.

It compares prevalence rates for childhood stunting of above 30% in India and Sub-Saharan Africa to Ireland and Europe, where the rates are less than 2.5%.

It concludes that consumption of meat, dairy, seafood and eggs, in appropriate evidence-based quantities, will continue to be included in the official advice and guidelines for a healthy, balanced diet.

The draft also emphasises that farming needs to be economically and socially sustainable.

It proposes a reduction in agricultural energy use by at least 20% by 2030 and to generate at least 20%
deployment of renewable energy technologies.

The draft also suggests the development of carbon farming where farmers can claim credits for practices that sequester carbon.