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Beef Focus
and financial benefits on farms include soil and grass
management. These will become even more important in
the coming period, as Thomas Ryan emphasised: "Better
resource management can improve farm returns and
enhance the environment. A reshaped CAP, post 2020,
particularly the Pillar Two elements of the CAP, could
mirror those improvements. It shouldn't all be about
imposing costs on farming. If we can embed the value
and positive results from Smart Farming into future CAP
supports then we can have a very positive outcome. Our
negotiations with the Department of Agriculture and the
Commission are aimed at a win/win outcome for Irish
farmers. We can't keep putting extra burdens on farmers,
disregarding the costs involved. The double dividend of
Smart Farming is a much more positive approach and
should be encouraged in the next CAP."
Carbon sink credits
The IFA Environment Secretary is critical of the fact that
farmers are not receiving due recognition for many
aspects of their contribution to a unique farming model
in Ireland: "It's frustrating from a climate impact viewpoint
that there are significant gaps. Blame is being apportioned
to Irish farms for emissions, methane and nitrous oxide,
in particular. At the same time, we have the largest
proportion of permanent grassland in Europe. In addition,
we have thousands of linear kilometres of hedgerows,
as well as a large area of forestry. These are all carbon
sinks. They sequester carbon and store it. Unfortunately,
that story is not taken into account when the carbon
equation is being calculated. The value of farmers being
involved in biomass production is credited to the energy
sector, rather than where is belongs. We are engaging
with the European Commission, emphasising the positive
attributes of the Irish farm model. With 212,000 carbon
assessments of Irish farms completed under the Bord Bia
Origin Green programme, no other sector of the Irish
economy is as engaged in monitoring and measuring
carbon and environmental impact. By European standards
we are unique. The Government's Climate Action Plan
must take these realities into account. The Teagasc
Roadmap is a blueprint for positive actions on farms,
based on science, with twenty-eight key measures
included which the farming sector can implement to
reduce GHGs by up to four million tons. That figure
represents over twenty-five per cent of total emissions
from the sector. Realising those savings requires a
coordinated approach."
Getting the message across
Thomas is adamant that farmers need to be proactive
in pressing their case: "We can't leave it to others. Each
farmer has a vested interest in ensuring that the public
and politicians understand the positive reality of what
is happening on Irish farms in relation to improving the
environmental impact of farming and the sustainability
of our food production model. Forty percent of Irish
farmers are involved in GLAS, the Green Low-carbon,
Agri-Environment Scheme. Ninety per cent of the Rural
Development Programme is focused on environmental
improvement. That's also fully subscribed. Everything
points to a very engaged farming community, which
understands the importance of addressing the
sustainability challenge. Often we don't fully recognise
the value of what we are doing."
Thomas quotes IFA President Joe Healy: "`It's hard to
be green when you are in the red'. An important aspect
of farmers getting a fair return for their premium,
sustainable produce is that it allows them to invest in the
environmental integrity of their farms. Whether that's
slurry storage, or wintering facilities, all of that costs
money. The marketplace must deliver a fair return to
allow reinvestment by farmers."
A critical derogation
Thousands of Irish farmers, mostly in the dairy sector,
are heavily reliant on an EU derogation to continue
their farming activities. Thomas Ryan understands the
necessity of ensuring that the current Nitrates Derogation
continues: "A review of the Derogation is under way
and IFA has been very active in its submissions to that
review. The acreage under derogation has increased
by thirty-four percent since 2014, so there is cause for
concern that any changes would force many farmers
to reduce their stocking rates. Given the investments
made by these farmers, any reduction in stocking rates
would have a very negative impact on the profitability of
their enterprises. There are high levels of inspection and
compliance on farms under derogation, including nutrient
plans and fertiliser accounts, so the review should be
about supporting developments in the sector, not about
hindering progress in sustainable, intensive farming."
If we can embed the value and positive results
from Smart Farming into future CAP supports
then we can have a very positive outcome.
Beat The
Having trouble
maintaining milk solids
in early-mid lactation?
Lush grass that is low in fi bre can increase the risk of acidosis in the rumen, leading to
poor digestion and reduced milk solids output.
is a live yeast from Alltech that has repeatedly been proven to promote
fi bre digestion while simultaneously reducing the build-up of lactic acid in the rumen.
Thanks to fewer wasted nutrients, more energy is available for production, which can
help to increase milk fat and protein.
A stable rumen wastes less. Beat the drop with YEA-SACC.
Ask your feed supplier for Yea-Sacc
Or call +353 (0) 59 910 1320
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