The Irish Farmers' Association has said the emissions ceiling for agriculture announced by the Government today will be "extremely challenging and could have a profound impact on the rural economy".

The new Climate Action Plan tasks the agriculture sector with reducing emissions by 22% to 30% and calls for an improvement in animal breeding and feeding practices.

Organically farmed land is to increase almost five-fold to 350,000 hectares.

The plan also calls for emissions in the dairy herd to be "managed" and for a transformation in the model of beef production.

IFA President Tim Cullinan stated: "The Government has fixed these targets without any proper assessment of the implications for individual farmers, the rural economy or food production.

"Teagasc data shows that only a third of Irish farmers are economically viable. With rising energy and transport costs, the economic viability of farms and rural businesses are being undermined," he said.

"Farmers cannot do more for the environment and invest in emissions mitigation measures when their incomes are under such pressure," he said.

He said the Government must now engage in "meaningful negotiation with elected farmer leaders to make a plan for the sector that can contribute to emissions reduction", but which does not impact on farmers' livelihoods.

Mr Cullinan added: "The frustration for farmers is that they know that if less food is produced in Ireland, it will be produced elsewhere, with a higher carbon footprint".

The Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers' Association said farmers will "constructively engage with the climate action plan" but warned they "will not be made fools of".

The President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, said: "The Government needs to show due respect to the farming and rural communities.

"We keep hearing that this is the time for blunt facts. Well, here are two. Firstly, the price of food is going to have to increase substantially to reflect the full economic and environmental cost of production.

"Secondly, we can no longer import food from or contemplate trade agreements with states that do not have a similar and verifiable emissions lowering regime. Otherwise, it's absolutely pointless."

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A spokesperson for the Irish dairy industry has said the Climate Action Plan will transform agriculture over the next decade.

The President of the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society said it is essential the measures "are properly planned, supported and funded as farmers and their co-ops require certainty as to what will be required".

Jerry Long said the target range of 22%-30% is "considerable and onerous" for the sector and that new research and technologies will be needed.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association said the emission reduction targets for agriculture are "incredibly challenging and carry a significant risk of doing serious damage to the economy outside of Dublin.

"We must get the balance right between our vital national interests and our obligations on climate change."

ICSA president Dermot Kelleher said: "It is absolutely pointless to talk about 'Just Transition' or even to set up a 'Just Transition' commission when the fact is that there has been no real engagement about how farmers can benefit from doing things differently or better.

"Enforcing cuts and driving people out of business just won't cut it. There has been no just transition for the peat sector, but we are now importing peat from eastern Europe. This is an example of a lose/lose policy where 'Just Transition' is a meaningless soundbite."

He continued: "There are things that can be done to reduce emissions from the national herd such as finishing cattle earlier. But the ICSA proposal to use CAP funds to support farmers who deliver on this has so far been ignored by Government."

Macra na Feirme - a voluntary organisation representing young people in rural Ireland - said today's announcement contained "not a single action addressing the issue of generational renewal" in the farming sector.

Macra President John Keane said: "Not once in the almost 60 actions are young farmers mentioned ... there is not one single action contained to address the barriers we meet in the sector."

He added: "We have heard as recent as this week the Taoiseach speak about a sustainable future for young farmers in the sector but talk is cheap and actions are once more failing in securing a future in Irish farming for young people."

The Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, said the targets for agriculture will "help make Irish farms more carbon efficient and build a more resilient agri-food sector".

He added: "Central to all of this is ensuring we have a strong and vibrant sector and that farm incomes are protected.

"That is why I have provided almost €10 billion in support for the new CAP Strategic Plan in the period from 2023 - 2027.

"We are facing into a period of transformation in our great sector and with the right support our farmers can lead this change."