European Parliament Excludes Cattle Farms in Landmark Vote

European Parliament Excludes Cattle Farms in Landmark Vote
Cows in a green field on a sunny day

Revolutionary Farming Victory: European Parliament Excludes Cattle Farms in Landmark Vote


  • European Parliament Decision: The European Parliament Environment Committee recently voted to support a compromise on the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), excluding cattle farms from its scope.
  • Impact on Agriculture: The exclusion was a result of effective lobbying by pan-EU farm groups, preventing potential regulatory challenges for beef and dairy farms. This decision is seen as a significant victory for farm organizations.
  • ICSA’s Perspective: The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) played a crucial role in opposing the initial proposal, emphasizing the impracticality of applying IED regulations to cattle farms without extensive professional support.


In a recent turn of events, the European Parliament Environment Committee’s vote on the compromise for the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) is being hailed as the decisive factor in excluding cattle farms from its scope.

This ruling is significant, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), because it shows how challenging it would be to implement IED standards on cattle farms without substantial expert support.

A turning point was the committee’s approval of the agreement, which was reached in November between the EU Council and the parliament.

Concerns about the possible requirement for licences for dairy and beef farms that meet a certain stocking rate were raised by European farm organisations when this agreement deviated from the commission’s original plan, which included cattle farms.

The exclusion of cattle farms from the IED’s scope was a result of effective lobbying by pan-EU farm groups, including Farm Europe, in which the ICSA is an active member.

Dermot Kelleher, President of ICSA, expressed gratitude for the efforts of Farm Europe in opposing the initial proposal that would have imposed complex compliance requirements on farms with over 150 livestock units.

Kelleher highlighted the continuous lobbying by ICSA in Brussels throughout 2023, underscoring the satisfaction of having their concerns acknowledged. The breakthrough in achieving the compromise at the trilogue level towards the end of 2023 was a significant accomplishment.

Applying the IED to cattle farms, as per the ICSA, would have demanded meticulous calculations of all emissions associated with farm inputs and outputs. Kelleher emphasised that this level of professional work would be beyond the capacity of a full-time cattle farm in Ireland.

The ICSA maintains that these obstacles, together with the intricacies of the Nature Restoration Law, demonstrate a gap in the EU Green Deal.

Kelleher underlined the necessity of the European Commission reviewing its policies, proposing a collaborative strategy with farmers, and stressing the importance of genuine engagement over superficial consultation procedures.

The agreement’s approval by the Environment Committee of the European Parliament is the last step towards ensuring that sheep farms and cattle ranches are exempt from the IED.

This decision is a significant win for farm organisations since it highlights the need of cooperation and pragmatism in the formulation of agricultural policies.



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