Farm Ireland

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Opposing views on what will Irish farms look like in 2040?

Dave Robbins

Dave Robbins

It has been quite a week for farmers and the climate.

In the space of a few days, the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that emissions from agriculture had increased.

The IFA's environment spokesman, Thomas Cooney, more or less admitted it would be difficult to reduce them without reducing the national herd, and the minister in charge of climate action in Ireland said that "we have to drive down emissions in agriculture".

It's easy to understand why farmers feel embattled by the whole climate change issue. When they look out over their stock, and the quality of the food they produce, it can be difficult to accept that any of this process can be causing harm.

So how will climate change affect farmers? What new targets and regulations will be imposed on them? How will farming be different in the future? Will it be different at all?

What will Irish farms look like in 2040?

I wouldn't like to see less cattle

Thomas Cooney (IFA)

"In the next 25 years, I would hope that there would be technological advances that would help with emissions.

"Anaerobic digesters would be on farms in 25 years, which would help with slurry and brown bin waste, but I wouldn't like to see less cattle. I would say there will be a similar amount of stock but being produced sustainably.

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Thomas Cooney

"Maybe there will be small bits of agro-forestry on each farm, a small corner of a field where you'd have forestry to help to offset the emissions on the farm, but not on a large scale. I'd hate to see good farmland used for forestry. I'd be hoping that these things would be enough.

"Solar is a big one. There will be big growth in solar - roof-top panels and that. And there will be some sort of agri-environment payment."

'Less suckler cows'

Harold Kingston (IFA)

"I would see that farms would be entirely fossil-fuel free in 25 years.

"The level of dairy will probably be slightly up on what it is now, and there will probably be less suckler cows. There will be an increase in forestry, and an increased biomass market.

Harold Kingston

"There may be more solar farms. In the UK - who are way ahead of us on this - most solar farms are on sheep farms and the sheep graze under the panels. That can also work with calves, if the panels are raised high enough.

"But farming here won't change enormously because we have the water resources to sustain our farming."

'I'd like to see less of the IFA'

Grace O'Sullivan (Green Party)

"In 25 years, I would see farms where they're utilising renewables on the farm, supported by government policies.

"Farmers would have solar farms alongside their beef or dairy farms, they would have anaerobic digesters and wind energy, all supplying energy to the grid. They would be using new clean tech to make money from their surplus energy.

Grace O'Sullivan

"I'd like to see us growing 90pc of our own veg in 25 years' time, and concentrating more on artisanal foods. I'd like to see more bee farming... I'd like to see a situation where the farmer is diversifying, so that they're not only producing beef or milk, but also veg and honey.

"I'd like to see less of the IFA and more of the smaller organisations representing forestry, beef, dairy, tillage, hill farms, sheep farms."

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