Climate change is the main issue that has dominated both discussions at farmer meetings and the news agenda in the agricultural press over the last couple of years.

Anyone who suggests that NI farmers are unaware or uninterested in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions does not understand what is happening on the ground.

In last weeks’ edition dated 3 December the editorial piece on page 4 suggested that some caution was required around the rush to carry out carbon audits through several different schemes.

It drew some significant criticism from those who argue there is an urgency to get this work done.

To be clear, we were not cautioning against getting carbon audits completed on farms, but we must ensure it is a coordinated effort across farming sectors.

The last thing we need is one sector going it alone and ending up with a different methodology to another, and potentially farmers with mixed enterprises being given conflicting advice on how best to drive down emissions.

There is already more than enough confusion in this space as it is.

It is also an area where there are a lot of things not yet fully understood or properly accounted for.

We must not give up on making the case that the carbon in methane from ruminants should be treated differently to carbon released from fossil fuels, or that accounting systems must accurately allow for carbon sequestered in soils, hedges, and trees.

The data collection process within a carbon audit should be as straightforward as possible for farmers and, once it is completed, it needs to be clear who owns the information and what it will be used for.

But, as we have consistently argued for more than two years, the reality is that carbon auditing of farms is something we must embrace.

It will help identify waste and inefficiencies in our farming systems and send the right signals to our customers that we are serious about climate change.

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