The cost of fertiliser might speed up the agricultural sector’s ability to reach carbon emission reduction targets, according to Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) chair Marie Donnelly.

Donnelly described the technology and research that will allow Irish farming to reduce carbon emissions including more efficient use of urea, but noted that the challenging fertiliser market might aid the process.

“Frankly, with the cost of fertiliser, that [reaching climate targets] might happen quicker than thought.”

Donnelly was speaking at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action during a discussion on Ireland’s carbon budgets, which were set out in the Government’s Climate Action Plan last month.

Small beef farmers

At the committee, Donnelly channelled questions from Bríd Smith TD on the role of Ireland’s small beef farmers in agriculture’s overall carbon targets.

Deputy Smith described how such farmers are getting all the climate blame in a sector dominated by “beef barons”.

In response, Donnelly said: “We [CCAC] have looked at where the beef industry is located in the country.”

She described how smaller beef farms are predominantly found in the west and northeast of the country.

She said Ireland has “a lot of small farmers in beef who do not make any money” and that Government must roll out initiatives and supports that enable this cohort to move to more environmentally sustainable and profitable income streams.

Role of Teagasc

The CCAC chair highlighted the role of Teagasc in supporting farmers through a “just transition”.

Farmers are not out there to do damage to land and want to do their part in environmental action, she said.

She said farmers need “Teagasc advisers going out and talking on what it’s all about”.

“[Farmers] need the incentives and structures in place to reward carbon farming.”

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