Not only do farmers need recognition for the carbon offsetting they do, they also need to be supported in further efforts to reduce atmospheric carbon, according to Northern Ireland MLA, Claire Sugden.

Speaking about the efforts farmers in Northern Ireland are making to meet ambitious carbon targets, Sugden acknowledged the significant role agriculture must play, as the largest industry in the country, in lowering emissions.

However, she said that farmers will need help if they are to continue taking such steps:

“Efforts are already being made by the farming community and these need to be recognised, but also ramped up. For this, support must be provided, both with advice and practical help, and financially.”

Sugden said that while reducing the amount of carbon created by the industry remains a priority, carbon offsetting can also be part of the solution.

She called on the Stormont Executive to work with farmers in their transition to a lower-carbon industry and said this support should be integral throughout the implementation of the climate act.

Going forward, bold actions will be needed from farmers both in offsetting and reducing carbon emissions said Sugden. If this is the case, she says the Executive must be equally as bold in supporting them during the process.

Speaking about the targets the Northern Irish agriculture industry must meet, she also warned that carbon offshoring is not the way to deal with this challenge.

“We have our own carbon targets to meet, but we have to find a way of lowering our agricultural emissions without simply moving the problem to another part of the world,” she said.

“Acknowledging the efforts already being made will go some way towards showing farmers these steps are appreciated and that support will be forthcoming to increase this,” she concluded.