Letter to the editor: ‘Origin Green’ has the scale to impact positively on greener farming

I refer to a letter to the editor dated 7th October 2020 ‘Origin Green needs to be put out to grass’ from Mr. Ian Lumley, An Taisce.

In response, I refer readers to the ‘Origin Green: Progress Update Report’ which sets out the quantifiable progress that 53,000 farmers and 330 food and drink companies across Ireland have achieved towards a more sustainable future under the Origin Green programme. 

Farming has, and will continue to have, a very important role to play in addressing the challenge of climate change.

Under the framework of the Origin Green programme, over a five year period, beef farms have achieved a 5% reduction in CO2 per unit of beef produced. Dairy farms have seen a 9% reduction in CO2 per unit of milk produced.

I am proud to say that our farmer members account for 92% of beef produced, 95% of milk produced, 70% of horticulture and 95% of eggs produced. This is the backbone of the Irish agriculture sector. 

Every week, 650 independent farm audits take place under the Origin Green programme and Bord Bia’s Sustainable Assurance Schemes.

In addition to quality, the sustainability criteria measured and monitored are greenhouse gas emissions; biodiversity; water use; energy efficiency; soil management and socio-economic factors. All critical change factors. 

Advice on sustainability

In addition Origin Green provides farmers with practical guidance and advice on how to become more sustainable.

Calling for the disbandment of a sustainability programme with such reach across the agriculture sector, is irresponsible at best. Particularly at a time when the Irish Government is committed to driving positive climate action through the Climate Action Bill.

Such rhetoric also ignores the very efforts being made by farmers all over Ireland, every day, to invest in more sustainable farming methods.

Collaboration

Origin Green and Bord Bia are part of a wider coalition across the Irish state and are actively working alongside fellow state agencies, including the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], to drive positive environmental change. 

To achieve change on such a scale, collaboration amongst stakeholders is essential.

We fully acknowledge and endorse the EPA’s view that further work is needed to accelerate the pace of this change and we will continue to offer our support to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to confront these immense challenges. 

On behalf of our 53,000 member farmers and the 330 food manufacturers that are committed to sustainable change, I am happy to restate our unwavering commitment to driving positive environmental change across the agriculture sector. 

Working constructively in collaboration with stakeholders, the Origin Green programme has the scale and scope to impact positively on greener ways of farming and more sustainable food production methods. 

As the author rightly highlights “Ireland has clear natural advantages in our food production system”. So too does Origin Green, in driving important environmental change on a national scale across our food supply chain from farm to fork. 

 From Deirdre Ryan, Director of Origin Green and Sustainable Quality Assurance Schemes, Bord Bia