Every avenue needs to be explored to help farmers reduce their carbon footprint without cutting production, says the Irish Grain Growers Group (IGGG), a representative body for the tillage farming industry.
“A small step has been taken by Bord Bia of late to recognise the Carbon Footprint of imported soya in their carbon footprint calculator which we welcome,” they said in a statement this week.
“However it only highlights the need to push this agenda further. A clear recognition must be given to fully traceable GMO free Irish grain and legumes in order to give all Irish farmers a real positive and very doable option of reducing their carbon footprint on farm without perhaps resorting to cutting production.
“Indeed Teagasc need to provide information on the benefits of feeding native feed meal when it comes to a farmers carbon footprint and the Signposts program is an ideal avenue to explore and research this option.”
The IGGG say that farmers are already using native Irish meal get “no reward or recognition” when it comes to Carbon Credit calculation for Bord Bia.
“The question why this is the case is becoming more relevant with every passing week where routes to reduce carbon emissions are needed more than ever for farmers,” they added.
“Recent reports on the Tillage sector from Tillage Industry Ireland, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture and Crops 2030 by Teagasc Stakeholder Group show the potential benefits of the sector.
“A few key facts at present: No tillage only farmer can apply to be part of Origin Green. This must be addressed where the sector with the lowest carbon footprint is not promoted by the state body Bord Bia.
“We import meal feed from up to 60 different countries some of which has a carbon footprint 24 times that of native Irish meal feed. We import, on average, two thirds of our meal feed requirements each year, much of which is GMO.
“With an adjustment of Land Use here in Ireland we potentially could offset a decent percentage of that figure and help reach Absolute Emission targets.
“We import practically all our flour needs now. We feel this figure could potentially be halved with strategic investment and commitment from supermarkets flour mills and bakers in Ireland.
“The potential of the Drinks Industry to expand significantly could offset the loss of export value that may materialise from the part cull of the national herd.”
And the group say they also have to question Bord Bia on how they can “justify having native Irish grain on a par with imports from the likes of the Mercosur countries when it comes to farm audits especially in a time when emissions now really matter?”