Minister for Environment and Climate Action Eamon Ryan said “the actual farmer, the primary producer is not getting a fair cut of the price” from either the “retailer or the processor” at present.

The Green Party leader said that he thinks farmers will get additional income through the production of more carbon-efficient and sustainable food.

He was speaking at the launch of the Government Climate Action Plan on Thursday.

The plan has set a target for the reduction of Irish agriculture’s emissions by 22% to 30% by 2030.

Minister Ryan described debate and “the way things are going” at COP26 as the basis behind his comments.

Scope three emissions

He outlined that, in his view, there will be a move towards a rebalancing of the “accountability” of food production carbon emissions across the supply chain.

He said: “It is not just the consumers who will want to make sure that the food they get comes from a healthy and natural system.”

Ryan highlighted that “food industry and food companies” must know that the emissions accounting system that we’re currently using will likely change.

“The food processing industry and the retailers will have to account for what’s called your scope three emissions. So [this is] what are their supplier’s emissions. They’re going to have to account for that.”

Scope three emissions are the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organisation, but that the organisation indirectly impacts in its value chain.

Better price for farmers

He clarified that, in his view, if food processors and retailers can’t account for these emissions in a way that’s sustainable, he doesn’t think their businesses will be viable.

According to Minister Ryan, the onus will fall on processors and retailers to pay higher prices for more carbon-efficient food produce.

“I think in those scenarios we can get additional income [for farmers]. We’ve all been saying that the actual farmer, the primary producer is not getting a fair cut of the price from either the retailer or the processor.”

“That obligation [will be] on those companies to show that their primary producer is getting a fair price. In my mind, it is a chance to pay the farmer slightly more for restoring the natural systems.”

In his remarks, Minister Ryan also noted that he wants to end the narrative of “Greens versus farmers”.