Farmers and those involved in agri-business see sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes as more important than reducing and removing greenhouse gas emissions, a new survey has found.

The findings were published by the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA).

Some 73% of respondents said that increasing agricultural productivity and incomes was ‘very important’ and 45% of respondents said that reducing and removing greenhouse gas emissions was also ‘very important’.

Adapting and building resilience to impacts of climate change was also seen as ‘very important’ or ‘important’ by 87% of the farmers and agri-business professionals.

The survey also found that Ireland can be a global leader in sustainable farming.

Some 86% of respondents said that establishing Irish leadership on climate-smart agriculture could benefit the agri-food sector.

However, it also found that with the Government aiming to boost the value of Irish agri-food exports by 85% to €19 billion over the next decade, 80% of respondents said meeting these objectives is made challenging by our EU obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Domestic action, according to the survey, is key to establishing a leadership position on climate-smart agriculture.

Respondents identified better use of fertiliser, boosting research and innovation, and optimising land use as among the most important success factors.

Almost nine out of 10 respondents said economically and environmentally optimising our land resource, between dairy, beef, tillage and forestry, is a key climate-smart strategy.

The national sample, which included non-government organisations (NGOs), government, agri-business, researchers and farmers, identified the following three pillars of climate-smart agriculture as important for Ireland:

  • Increasing farm incomes and productivity.
  • Reducing emissions.
  • Building resilience to climate impacts.