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Environmental Schemes Must Work for Ireland

12 November 2013

IRELAND – Agri-environment schemes must be suitable for Ireland’s farmers, said Alan Matthews, Professor Emeritus at Trinity College Dublin as he addressed the Teagasc Agri-environment conference last week.

Speaking in Tullamore, he suggested groups of farmers could be paid for bigger projects to achieve ‘landscape-level’ benefits.

This would be backed up by an advisory arm for ‘regulatory requirements and on actions relating to innovation’.

Important work should be undertaken by numerous organisations at once, said Mark Gibson, Teagasc Environmental Specialist. He said that there is an obvious need for all stakeholders to work closer together, particularly in relation to the design and implementation of schemes.

According to Padraig Brennan of Bord Bia, food companies want to see how they can source their raw materials most sustainably.

In his paper on sustainable agriculture and responding to new market demands he said that Irish dairy products are lowest in the EU in terms of their carbon footprint and our beef is in the top five in terms of sustainable production.

He highlighted the Carbon Navigator tool, developed between Teagasc and Bord Bia, which helps beef farmers focus on the measures they can adopt to improve efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint.

Teagasc environmental economist, Mary Ryan, outlined the results of a survey of almost 1,000 farmers carried out by Teagasc in 2012 which provides valuable feedback of what farmers think of agri environmental schemes.

It showed that there was strong environmental awareness among farmers and that they were very positive towards the benefits from the agri environment schemes. The study showed that farmers placed a high value on the support they received from their farm adviser.

The need to provide educational supports for farmers to assist them meet their cross compliance commitments was emphasised by Teagasc environment specialist Tim Hyde.

He said that regulation alone will not achieve the environmental objectives of CAP and that resources need to be refocused towards building farmer understanding of their requirements.

ThePigSite News Desk

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