‘Important step’ for carbon sequestration of hedgerows, but farmers ‘can’t carry the cost’

Macra na Feirme has welcomed mooted intentions to carry out both a baseline biodiversity survey and a national hedgerow survey, but it stresses that farmers “cannot be expected to fund such an effort”.

The organisation’s national president Thomas Duffy commented on the work already being undertaken by farmers with regard to biodiversity.

He said: “This is an important step to both recognise the carbon sequestration potential of hedgerows and the work farmers are already doing to protect biodiversity, while targeting better measures to reverse biodiversity loss.

“These surveys will form an important baseline for future environmental results-based schemes. Macra na Feirme remains the only farm organisation with a set aim of increasing results-based schemes in its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) submission to the EU Commission in 2017.”

The body’s agriculture affairs chair – Shane Fitzgerald – added:

These commitments are welcome but farmers cannot be left with the bill. Farmers want to make these measures work, but the ordinary farmer cannot afford additional expense.

“The recognition of the success of the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) and its stakeholder approach is also welcome. Macra na Feirme has been an active participant through its representatives in the design and implementation of the program.”

Macra involvement

Duffy said: “Expansion of the ASSAP and a potential new environmental scheme can deliver a lot – for both the environment and the farmer. Questions remain about the design; farmers who do more must be rewarded with more.

“Re-wetting of carbon-rich soils must be done by working with farmers – not against those farming in marginal areas.”