Farming & Fisheries

Farmers will ‘find their way’ through climate challenge, says McConalogue

August 17th, 2021 10:10 PM

By Southern Star Team

Minister McConalogue, above, with Carbery chief executive Jason Hawkins and John McNamara of Teagasc take a close look at the multi species swards planted at Shinagh as part of the Farm Zero C project.

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WEST Cork’s award-winning Carbery Group welcomed the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue TD  to their Farm Zero C project on his recent visit to West Cork.

The project, which is working to create a world-first climate-neutral dairy farm, is being run from Shinagh Farm near Bandon.

Shinagh is a demonstrator farm, previously focused on demonstrating profitability and efficiency. The farm is owned by the four West Cork co-ops and run in partnership with Teagasc.

With Farm Zero C having recently been awarded a €2m grant in prize money from Science Foundation Ireland’s Zero Emissions Challenge, work is now underway on hiring researchers, a project manager and a farm researcher.

Two of this team will be based full-time at Shinagh.

Jason Hawkins, Carbery chief executive, said it was great to welcome the minister to Shinagh to show him a positive story around dairy and sustainability.

‘We didn’t know, when we started work on this project two years ago, how much focus there would be on farming and environmental impact in the current climate,’ said Mr Hawkins. ‘But our goals remain the same, though the landscape has changed around us.  We want to use this project to show that it is possible to run a profitable, efficient dairy farm operation that is also climate-neutral. And we’re well on the way to proving this,’ Mr Hawkins said.

Welcoming the minister. Carbery Group chairman and farmer, Cormac O’Keeffe, said the farmers of West Cork have been supportive of Farm Zero C from its inception.

‘To see all of the positive focus around it now is an encouraging news story for farmers and about farming, at a time when it is needed,’ he added. ‘We look forward to welcoming many more visitors to Shinagh, and especially the farmers of West Cork, to see what we are trying to achieve here.’

Minister McConalogue said he had been consistent in his belief that farmers are ‘innovators’, and will find their way through the current climate issue ‘as they have problem-solved in the past’.

‘My department will continue to support them to do so,’ said the Donegal-based deputy. ‘Farm Zero C is a powerful example of what can happen when the solutions for reducing agricultural emissions are farmer-led, in partnership with academics and researchers,’ he continued. ‘Projects like this will be how we secure the future of farming and of our climate for future generations.’

He wished the project team of BiOrbic, Carbery, Teagasc and all the other partners the best of luck and said he would look forward to being updated on the outcomes.

Minister McConalogue was accompanied on the visit by Deputy Christopher O’Sullivan (FF), Senator Tim Lombard (FG) and the county mayor, Cllr Gillian Coughlan.

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