IFA’s Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney has welcomed the publication of the National Mitigation Climate Plan by Government, saying that it provides “a basis for a whole of society response to the climate challenge.”
He also welcomed the fact that greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture have declined over the past two decades, at a time of growth and expansion, indicating an emission-efficient development of the agri-food sector. However, he said, “Farming can, and will, do more. The IFA-led Smart Farming initiative referred to in the mitigation plan will be scaled up in 2018. It will continue to focus on demonstrating the win-wins of improving farm incomes, enhancing the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
In addition, farmers’ on-going participation in carbon monitoring, measuring and management will continue through participation in programmes such as Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme and the Department of Agriculture’s Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) and Green Low Carbon Agriculture Scheme (GLAS).
Thomas Cooney added, “Farmers will continue to build on our emission efficient model of food production, being a global leader in analysing and seeking to make improvements in carbon efficiency across the food supply chain. For example, to date more than 137,000 carbon audits have been completed by Bord Bia as part of their Origin Green programme, 90% of beef exports are now in an audit and carbon foot printing programme and 100% of milk production is entering into a carbon auditing cycle.”
IFA Farm Forestry Chairman, Pat Collins has expressed concern regarding the potential for forestry to deliver its full climate mitigation potential, with planting down over 14% on this time last year and reaching unsustainable levels. He said that farmers’ interest in forestry as a land use option has fallen significantly since the introduction of the new programme, this lack of interest is a direct result of barriers that have been identified to increase land availability not being addressed by the Forest Service.
On the role of renewable energy in addressing the climate challenge, IFA has called on Environment Minster Denis Naughten to urgently progress plans for renewable heat and electricity supports. “These supports must be directed towards renewable projects that have a minimum of 25% community ownership. There must be greater equity and community participation in renewable projects into the future.”
Concluding, Thomas Cooney said, “Science will play an important role in helping farmers in this area. Emerging sciences such as the role of seaweed and protected urea in reducing emissions must be fully investigated by agencies such as Teagasc and NUI Galway. Farmers are innovative and will continue to respond to the best technologies that enhance the environment and improve farm incomes.”