Farmers for Action (FFA) is calling for the immediate establishment of a hemp processing facility in Ireland.

“Hemp is the fastest growing form of wood on the planet,” the organisation’s William Taylor argued.

“The crop sequesters more carbon in one year than trees will in 20 years.”

Taylor believes that growing more trees in response to the challenge of climate change is nothing more than a “land grab” away from family farms.

“Once tress are planted, they are in situ for generations. Food security must be made a priority for farming businesses,” he said.

“There is no reason why hemp cannot be included within a standard farming rotation.

“Trees can be planted on ground that is not suited for any other use.”

Going green – hemp and ‘treadmills’?

A deputation from Farmers for Action attended the second of three public consultations, hosted by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to facilitate debate on the establishment of Northern Ireland’s first three carbon budgets.

The accompanying discussion documents highlight the recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to cut livestock numbers as part of the initiative to secure a net carbon zero for the position by 2050.

“There would be no need for a reduction of 22% in the dairy herd and 17% reduction in beef numbers due to innovation, which is moving forward at a significant rate of knots,” Taylor said.

“We also know that cattle when housed will be able to generate electricity whilst eating. This is achieved by putting a form of treadmill system into sheds.”

According to the FFA representative cattle can be easily trained to adopt to this type of system. It is hoped that a pilot project will be operational in Northern Ireland within the next two years.

“For example, if this innovation were in production, then it would mean that by reducing cattle numbers by even one animal, farmers would, in effect, be doing away with one of the greenest forms of energy on the planet,” he said.

“We also used the consultation event to highlight our Northern Ireland Farm Welfare Bill.

“This aims to return to farmers a minimum of their cost of production, inflation-linked, plus a margin for their produce.”