Funding for climate mitigation measures on farm needs to come from the exchequer [known officially as the Central Fund in Ireland], Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan has said.

If farmers are willing to take on more measures and change farming practices in order to increase sustainability and reduce emissions, there has to be proper funding around it, Cullinan said, speaking at the IFA's 68th AGM on Tuesday.

This funding, he said, is going to need to be "substantial" in order to adhere to the criteria of the Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC) and cover the costs of anaerobic digestion (AD) and solar energy on farms.

“Obviously I can’t put a figure on how much we want, but just looking at the measures farmers have to do with their current operations, if we are going to have to put in more efficiencies in the beef and the sheep sector, there’s funding required there and they are very vulnerable sectors," he said.

Climate measures

Cullinan said that the Government is trying to fund climate measures by dipping into funding allocated for schemes that are already in place for farmers.

The funding, he said, can only come from two places: Brussels and the exchequer.

“This is very important if we are going to keep people living in rural Ireland. We saw, this year, in excess of €16bn of exports from our sector, which is very important, the trickle-down effect [when] this money stays in the economy,” he said.

Unlike foreign direct investment companies, any money spent by farmers stays in the country, he claimed.

“This is a win-win for the Government. We’ve done a study on this in the past and every €1 a farmer spends in the local economy, there’s a trickle-down impact of up to €4 in that local economy," he said.