The Oireachtas Agriculture Committee has recommended basing payments to farmers under the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) on achieving environmental targets instead of imposing carbon taxes. 

In their report on Climate Change and Sustainability in the Agriculture and Food Sectors, the Committee also recommends incentivising farmers to reduced green house gas emissions in key areas such as livestock emissions and manure management. 

"The Committee recommends measures to incentivise the reduction of emissions and the pursuit of more efficient processes, which is in line with proposals for the post-2020 CAP. For example the basing of CAP payments on achieving environmental /green targets may be a more optimal system than a carbon tax," the report stated. 

The chair of the committee, Fine Gael TD Pat Deering also said readily available measures should be put in place to assist farmers and rural communities in responding to the impact of extreme weather events, such as fodder shortages, winter storms and heatwaves. 

"Climate-related losses in crop and livestock productivity continues to impact negatively on farmers; with this in mind, we are recommending that measures be put in place to assist farmers and rural communities in responding to the impact of extreme weather events, such as shortages of fodder, winter storms and heatwaves," he said. 

The report said it welcomed the work of the Citizens' Assembly, which earlier this year supported the introduction of taxes on greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. However, it said the committee recommends that "further emphasis is added to the absence of heavy industry in Ireland in the consideration of climate change targets".

The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) said it welcomed the Committee's view that an incentivised approach to delivering climate objectives rather than increasing taxation should be pursued. 

IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney said: "This report and the recently published climate abatement report by Teagasc, have identified the necessary actions. It is now time for Government action."

The committee also recommended that an immediate impact assessment of the climate change and sustainability targets in Food Wise 2025 be undertaken.