The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) should consider establishing a “carbon sequestration market” so that farmers could get paid for providing a storage service potentially to companies, a leading business group has proposed.

According to Chambers Ireland the DAFM should examine the “potential environmental and economic gains” that could be gained from establishing a new carbon sequestration market for agriculture.

The organsiation – which has more than 40 member chambers across the country with an estimated 10,000 participating businesses – has set out, in a submission to the DAFM, why it believes establishing a new market of this nature for agriculture could create a financial incentive for farmers.

“In return for switching to regenerative, sustainable practices, new carbon markets which provide a financial incentive to shrink the sector’s carbon footprint would allow farmers to get paid for the carbon they store,” Chambers Ireland outlined.

The business body also said that generating credits in this way “would entail measuring the baseline capacities of farms for carbon sequestration”.

Chambers Ireland outlined in its submission to the DAFM that once calculated, “suitable farming practices must be adopted to safeguard soil carbon accrual over time”.

“In the context of forestry, the preference would be to have native forestry plantations which are suitable for the land and biodiverse.

“More generally, other carbon-smart agricultural practices include growing cover crops, crop rotations, anaerobic digesters, and conservation tillage.”

Its proposal to the DAFM details that the credits could then be “awarded to farmers when sequestration is proven to happen over a certain timeframe”.

“Companies could then purchase credits to account for the sequestered carbon against their own emissions and goals,” the business body added.

According to Chambers Ireland the establishment of this type of market could also help to relieve some pressure on the state to “provide income supports to farmers and also others that are contingent on Ireland’s agricultural production being environmentally sustainable”.

“This is because the credits-based system would be traded by companies to smallholders, as they will have an incentive to offset their carbon footprint and risk incurring fines,” it stated.