An intensive multi-agency information campaign aimed at increasing farmer awareness and understanding about the impact of climate change is recommended in a National Rural Network report on farm-level actions to reduce climate change impacts.

The report was prepared by a working group involving representations of farming organisations, Bord Bia, Teagasc, the Environmental Protection Agency, University College Dublin, the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association and agricultural consultants.

The report, Farm Level Actions to Reduce Climate Change Impacts, highlights the confusion among many farmers about climate change, greenhouse gases and the methods of measurement. It stresses the importance of working with farmers to achieve improvements rather than setting targets which they must achieve.

It states that the carbon navigator developed by Teagasc and Bord Bia has the capacity to address farmer misunderstanding and recommends this should be used to measure and produce practical recommendations for all farms.

“The first stage of the information campaign should involve simple explanations of the impact of climate change, the extent to which farmers contribute both positively and negatively, to it and how farm practices can be adapted to the benefit of farmers and the environment,” explained its author Dr Pat Bogue.

“The low carbon nature of Irish agriculture and food can be exploited as a marketing tool for Irish food but this can only be fully exploited when accurate verification is available at farm level.”