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Northern Ireland faces loss of 1 million sheep and cattle to meet climate targets

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Not only does agriculture account for a large slice of NI’s emissions (and Ireland’s too), it also accounts for a lot of its GDP, directly and indirectly.

There is a reason why Ireland is dominated by pastoral rather than arable farming. It’s because most of the land is unsuitable for growing of crops, certainly to a profitable extent. Much of the land is rocky and the climate is far too wet. That was why Ireland was so reliant on potatoes at the time of the Great Famine.

Currently only 4% of N Ireland’s farmland is arable.

Although farm labour only accounts for 7% of the country’s labour force, many more depend on the rural economy. Altogether the rural population makes up about 40% of the total in N Ireland. Destroying a large part of farming sector there would be catastrophic for the rural sector. Replacing the meat and dairy sector with, for instance, potatoes would decimate incomes and lead to mass migration out of the countryside.

Perhaps the most shocking part of the Guardian’s report is the reaction of Chris Stark, who is more interested in his modelling than in people’s lives. It also raises the question of just how all of this will be enforced. Farmers certainly are not going to give up willingly.

Shades of the infamous Soviet Land Reforms?


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