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Minister Smith says Climate Change Targets must not damage Irish Agriculture and Rural Economy

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today said that, while the Government remains committed to delivering Ireland's contribution to the target of a 20% reduction in the EU's greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, "making significant cuts from agriculture will be very difficult".

Minister Smith warned that if agriculture had to meet the same 20% target as other sectors, it would place significant downward pressure on animal numbers, something the Minister concluded would "in a global context make no sense".

The Minister said that if Ireland was to reduce cattle numbers, the global climate change situation would actually be worsened because "Irish beef would simply be replaced on world markets by beef produced in a much less sustainable way".

Minister Smith said that it was his intention to continue to "press for the flexibilities needed to ensure that we can meet our climate change targets without doing damage to our agricultural sector and our rural economy" and confirmed that he had been and would continue to raise the issue with other EU Ministers in the Agriculture Council.

Date Released: 06 November 2007