Farmers will be on average €3,800 better off each year if Ireland becomes one of the 'greenest' countries in the world

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

Mark O’Regan

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.

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

Launched by Bord Bia in 2012, over 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.

This compares with our national dairy herd, which enjoys the joint-lowest footprint in the EU.

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

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‘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

"It would not only reduce green house 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.

"We already have a number of farms well below that figure, but there are always improvements to be made.

"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. But 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."

While an "initial investment" may be required by farmers, in most cases a 'greener' farm can be achieved through efficiencies. 

"A lot of it comes down to management practices. In some cases there may be investment needed, but in a lot of cases it's about doing things as well as possible on the farm," he told the Irish Independent.

"We're working through the other sectors, like our pigs, poultry, lamb and horticulture, and a lot of the ground work has already been done."

As part of the programme, food and drink manufacturers have committed to over 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.

Some 400 delegates, including 120 from overseas, attended the 'Origin Green' sustainability report in Dublin's Convention Centre.

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