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Brian Rushe

IFA deputy president Brian Rushe: 'Teagasc must help farmers get rewarded for service to environment'

Brian Rushe


Being appointed to the Teagasc board, at a time when research and science has never been more important for the development of our agricultural sector, is a great responsibility.

Teagasc is a valuable resource for farmers. It has a top-class research, education and advisory service that is central to the future of our sector.

I know, I'm a client. Their capacity to research the latest technology and provide advice is vital to my own farm enterprise. I would not be operating at the level I do without their back-up.

I'm passionate about empowering farmers through science and research.

Probably the biggest challenge facing farming is climate action. We have to adjust the dynamic of the debate as the constant demonising of farming is demoralising.

I see Teagasc as having a central role in changing this dynamic.

Science is evolving all the time. How methane emissions are measured is now being questioned and this needs to be clarified and these emissions need to be appropriately accounted for.

Farmers are not getting the recognition for the carbon in our pasture and our hedgerows and crops. Measurement of this carbon sequestration is paramount to balance the conversation. I want Teagasc to make this a priority.

For farmers to benefit from what Teagasc is doing, we have to disseminate widely the most up-to-date advice to farmers.

One of my ambitions is to see more farmers taking up the latest research. Research may be the root that anchors us, it's no use in a scientific journal.

We must find a way to reach the farmer who does not normally engage with the service.

For the MACC curve climate recommendations to become actionable, the advisory service must reach the maximum number of farmers.

Failing to get the message out means that farmers cannot play the pivotal role that they are capable of.

Teagasc also has a role in helping to tackle the income situation on drystock farms. All of our sectors are linked. There is a synergy between dairy and beef, beef and tillage, tillage and pigs and poultry.

Backed by the science that properly measures net as opposed to gross carbon emissions, livestock farmers can be rewarded for environmental delivery. I see this as an opportunity to support and strengthen farm incomes.

The Green Deal will place extra conditions on our farmers. The EU Commission has to bring forward a bigger budget to give farmers a viable living. Farmers supplying a public good have to see a return on this.

The next CAP has to reflect this in payments to farmers.

Where farmers deliver an environmental good, they should be adequately rewarded.

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