There was some good news for livestock farmers at the Northern Ireland Assembly this week as MLAs passed an amendment to the Climate Change Bill put forward for Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots limiting the reduction of methane to 46 per cent by 2050.

The Minister said during the debate on Monday, that a reduction of 46% in methane was in line with recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the UK's Climate Change Committee (CCC).

This amendment was one of dozens put forward at the further consideration stage.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union which organised a protest of hundreds of farmers at Stormont at the initial debate of the Climate Change Bill several weeks ago, said there was relief among the farming community after MLAs voted in support of a separate target for methane in agriculture, being set within the Executive’s Climate Change Bill.

UFU president Victor Chestnutt said, “Following the further consideration stage, our farmers are utterly relieved that a separate methane target has been supported by MLAs, bringing us back in line with the Climate Change Committee’s balanced pathway for agriculture. This is still a very ambitious target to have within the Executive’s Climate Change Bill. Farmers have not been let of the hook by any means. Big changes will be required of agriculture to meet it, but supported by science and expert advice, our farmers are well up for that challenge and are eager to get to work on combating emissions.

“Over the last few weeks our farmers were put in a very unfair situation, having to deal with frustration and anxiety over a net zero target and the potential detrimental impact it would have on the farming industry – all of which could have been avoided. However, the main thing is that local politicians listened to farmers concerns and made the right decisions in the end when it mattered most.

“The final consideration stage will take place next week before the Executive’s Climate Change Bill as it stands, can become law. The worry remains that Clare Bailey’s Private Member’s Bill is still lingering in the background, but the UFU will not rest until a climate change legislation that follows the expert advice delivering for everyone in society is officially over the line. We are thankful however, that at this moment in time, we’re in a much better place than where we were.

“Food security is a massive issue not only locally, but globally, with the population estimated to increase from 7.5billion today to an estimated 10billion in 2050. We’re fortunate in NI to be well placed to produce food from farms with high animal welfare and environmental standards, and it’s extremely encouraging that most of our MLAs now recognise this. They have demonstrated their support for our farmers at Stormont, helping to protect our environment and local food production to ensure that going forward, we have a sustainable agri-food sector.

“Our agri-food industry is part of the climate change solution which our farmers recognise. We now need the legislation in place so that we can continue to drive emissions reductions and carbon sequestration delivering for everyone in NI in a balanced way.”