How future environmental measures on farms will be paid for and who will pay for them was raised at the annual Farming for Nature gathering.

Dr Lawrence Dooley, a senior lecturer in enterprise and innovation at University College Cork (UCC), said environmental metrics on farms such as improving biodiversity, water quality and carbon sequestration are an added cost to producing food that will have to be paid by someone.

“We see this environmental push, but the key question is, who is going to pay for all those extra metrics?

“If things remain the same, these extra costs are going to be costs for farmers, and they are going to eat into their profits,” he said.

Dr Dooley added that consumers are used to buying food at “a very reasonable price” and this is now their expectation.

“Of course, from a normal economic perspective, you would only do things that the customer is willing to pay for, but the customer has been trained over 50 years in terms of access to food at a certain price.

“The voice of the customer and the mind of the customer are two completely different things. Who is going to pay for this? Is it going to be the consumer, is it going to be the Government?”


Speaking at the event held in Gort, Co Galway, on Saturday, 28 October, the lecturer also discussed the potential for farmers to be innovative around accessing value-added markets and creating new supply chains.

“Are there higher value-added markets farmers can tap into? Are there ways in which the existing supply chains can be bypassed?” he said.