The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) has expressed its concerns over the proposed changes to the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) in a letter to Irish MEPs. The directive, which is currently at committee stage in the European Parliament, aims to regulate industrial emissions through a permit scheme operated by EU member states. Under the proposed changes, a permitting regime would be extended to many more farms, including cattle farms, which were not previously covered by the directive. The IED already applies to large pig and poultry operations.
The EU Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) voted against proposals to put a permitting system in place for family farms at the end of April. AGRI recommended that the revised rules should only apply to farms with more than 40,000 places for poultry, 2,000 places for production pigs or 750 places for sows, and to farms of 750 livestock units (LSU). The committee also voted on deleting the aggregation rule (which affects partnerships) and introduced several provisions simplifying registration procedures and reducing obligations for farm operators. In March, EU environment ministers had proposed a threshold of 350 LSU above which permits would be required.
ICOS has now written to Irish MEPs explaining the consequences of widening the scope of the IED to include livestock farms. The society warned that some of the current proposals would result in added burdens, bureaucracy and costs associated with registration and maintaining records for farmers. It also highlighted that the permit information would, under initial proposals, be open to the public for input. ICOS urged Irish MEPs to make representations to ensure the directive is not extended to grass-based livestock production systems and that the minimum thresholds for exemption are maintained as high as is reasonably possible and practicable.
Copa-Cogeca, the European farm and co-operative umbrella body, has also expressed concerns over the proposed changes to the IED. The organisation has written to members of the environment committee to highlight its concerns, which include not increasing the thresholds of rearing activities of pigs and poultry, not including cattle or mixed farms, and deleting the aggregation rule.
The next stage in the IED review moves to the EU Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) where a vote will take place on May 24, ahead of a full plenary vote expected in September. The outcome of the vote will determine whether the proposed changes to the IED will be implemented and the impact this will have on farmers across Europe. The concerns raised by ICOS and Copa-Cogeca highlight the need for careful consideration of the proposed changes to ensure that they do not place undue burdens on farmers or compromise the quality of farming practices.