A carbon steering group has been formed in Northern Ireland in recognition that an industry-wide coordinated approach is the most effective way to ensure the agri-food industry is heard on the topic of carbon.

The group aims to mould a farmer-friendly approach to reaching net zero and measuring and managing carbon emissions.

The new group includes representatives from:

  • The Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC);
  • Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU);
  • Dairy Council for Northern Ireland (DCNI);
  • NI Meat Exporters Association (NIMEA);
  • NI Food and Drink Association (NIFDA);
  • NI Agricultural Producers’ Association (NIAPA);
  • NI Grain Trade Association (NIGTA);
  • NI Pork and Bacon Forum;
  • NI Poultry Federation;
  • Moy Park.

Chair of NIFDA, George Mullan, said the members came together to “act on behalf of our farmers and agri-food industry” to ensure consistency of action in relation to the reduction of carbon emissions.

“Working across farmers, processors, industry bodies, government departments and research organisations, we want to ensure that appropriate solutions are provided to measure carbon emissions and identify innovative ways to reduce emissions,” he said.

“As a group, we’ve been able to lead from the front to develop a market strategy and support farmers to intercept potential livestock reductions.

“Reducing carbon emissions is becoming a requirement for our customers, not only in the UK, but also in export markets.”

Mullan said this has presented the group with an opportunity to find a workable system that can deliver the information required and enable the Northern Irish agri-food sector to remain competitive.

The on-farm carbon journey

The Northern Ireland carbon steering group will work in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to create a programme that will “help all farm businesses understand where they are on this carbon journey”.

As part of this, and to inform the work programme with the department, the group has said it intends to test the concept of whole-farm data collection with 100 farms in the next dew weeks.

Information required to test this concept will be collected following a NI Beef and Lamb Farm Quality Assurance Scheme (FQAS) inspection and during the same farm visit, the group said.

Chair of the steering group and UFU president, David Brown, said: “We need to ensure that we develop a programme with the farmer in mind at all times.

“It needs to be workable for them, ensuring an accurate and efficient process that causes minimal disruption to the farm business.

“The delivery of information is a key element to ensure its suitable for all parties and supports appropriate carbon reduction strategies while protecting farmers’ data.”