Farmers in Ireland have been curtailed into just producing food over the last 50 years and now we’re really looking at going back into producing other materials.

This is according to the Irish BioEnergy Association’s (IrBEA’s) technical executive, Noel Gavigan.

Speaking to AgriLand at the launch of a joint policy document calling for a biogas support scheme – titled ‘Mobilising an Irish Biogas Industry with Policy and Action’ – Gavigan said: “We have to look at where farming has been over the last century.

Farming used to have to produce all of the food, fibre and the transport. And not only did farmers produce the transport fuel, they also produced the vehicle – the horse.

“Farmers were the Volkswagen and the Shell all in one as well as producing food and fibre and there is huge potential for farms to produce a lot more material rather than just food.

“There is huge potential with the bioeconomy and the circular economy looking at how much more we can produce.

“Plastics are now causing a lot of problems and for us to go back into them spaces and producing insulations, base chemicals and pharmaceuticals. There is huge potential for farming.

The bioeconomy sector is not looking to compete with normal farming, it’s to complement what’s on farms at the moment.

The document that was launched today addresses the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action’s call for a strategy to be developed for anaerobic digestion and also the Government Climate Action Plan on biomethane injection.