Friday 30 September 2016

Farmers set for €3,800 windfall if Ireland improves 'carbon footprint'

Published 10/11/2015 | 02:30

As part of the initiative, farmers must agree to be audited and ‘carbon footprinted’ once every 18 months
As part of the initiative, farmers must agree to be audited and ‘carbon footprinted’ once every 18 months

Farmers will be on average €3,800 better off each year if Ireland achieves its aim of becoming one of the 'greenest' countries in the world.

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'Origin Green' is the first programme of its kind for our food and drink sector.

Launched by Bord Bia in 2012, more than 55,000 farmers have signed up to the programme, accounting for 90pc of Ireland's beef production.

As part of the initiative, farmers must agree to be audited and 'carbon-footprinted' once every 18 months. Since its launch, almost 90,000 carbon assessments have been carried out across the country.

But despite the huge strides that have been made, our beef industry is ranked only fifth in Europe in the 'carbon footprint' league table.

However, Bord Bia says that if we can reduce carbon ­emissions by 10pc our farmers would ­become the most carbon ­efficient in Europe.

'On-farm income' would shoot up €300m per year.

This would mean each beef farmer in Ireland would earn on average an additional €3,800 annually, according to Padraig Brennan, sustainability development manager with Bord Bia.

"If we reduced the carbon footprint by 10pc, it would ­definitely have a knock-on ­benefit to a typical farm's ­financial performance," he told the Irish Independent.

"It would not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also make the farm more efficient.

"If we achieved the 10pc ­figure, it would mean we have the lowest environmental ­footprint in Europe. This is a potential. As an industry, we need to work to try and make it happen.

"Lots of farms are already doing these things but there's also scope for improvement. Like anything, there is variation in performance. This is potentially what we can achieve if farmers learn from those who have best ­practice in place already. A lot of it comes down to management practices," he added.

As part of the programme, food and drink ­manufacturers have committed to more than 800 sustainability targets around raw material sourcing, manufacturing processes and social sustainability.

These targets will contribute to savings of up to €17m in energy and water usage in the next two years.

It will also reduce 'general waste' by 14,000 tonnes.

Irish Independent

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