Farmers will end up “doing more work for the same money” if carbon sequestration and carbon farming gets subsumed into the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), according to MEP Colm Markey.

Speaking to Agriland editor, Stella Meehan on the latest episode of Farmland, which will be available at 7:00 this evening (Tuesday, March 1), Markey emphasised the importance of ensuring the sequestration of carbon and other greenhouse gases (GHG) stand alone for an enhanced carbon credit.

Markey said allowing these practices to be subsumed into the CAP under an eco scheme would result in farmers doing more work for the same return, which would be “completely unfair”.

“There’s a whole additional level of environmental responsibility coming down the tracks so we have to make sure that carbon farming stands alone. We cannot allow a conversation to develop that allows that to just fall in under the CAP as eco schemes.”

“The eco schemes are going to bring a new challenge anyway because there’ll be a similar payment no matter where you are in the country or what your farming style is,” he added.

colm markey on farmland 2022 carbon sequestration
MEP Colm Markey speaking on Farmland programme

Markey said that when he challenged the director general for agriculture and rural development on the issue, the EU commission acknowledged that it should be a different revenue stream.

Measurement issues

Currently, details on the amount of carbon being emitted and the amount being sequestered through the planting of hedgerows and biodiversity practices is an evolving research process.

However, Markey says that while information on this is somewhat lacking at the moment, we are close to having a better idea of the impact carbon sequestration and carbon farming is having.

“A lot of work has been done in recent times by Teagasc and private operators in terms of identifying what carbon is being sequestered by grasslands and hedgerows, and equally, what has been emitted from our peatlands.”

Markey doesn’t believe that Ireland is behind other countries in Europe in relation to gathering this information.

He said that after discussing the issue at a European level, while it will be a few more years until legislation is on the ground, Ireland is not significantly behind.

“The information is not there at the moment but I don’t think Ireland is particularly behind. In fact, I think Ireland would be recognised as one of the three or four countries most advanced in terms of the work they’ve done,” he said.