Mike Brady: What don’t environmentalists and the general public understand about farmers?

The magic figure is a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gases (GHG) from agriculture by 2030. For farmers, is it the stairway to heaven or the highway to hell?

His honest answer is that no one knows what impact these goals will have on agriculture and the wider agriculture sector in the coming years. My first observation is that they are only goals on paper – it is actions, not goals, that achieve results.

The TGASK MACC curve (Marginal Reduction Cost Curve) is the roadmap for farmers to meet GHG reduction. Will this be enough or will it need re-calibration? There’s a suggestion on social media that the “MACC curve on steroids” is needed to complete the 25 pc, and that is probably correct.

Whatever the government agrees or what environmentalists demand, in my experience farmers are independently minded, they will weigh which works best.

Environmentalists often miss this fundamental point when lecturing farmers about their approach to food production systems. Following are the farmer characteristics of environmentalists and the general public often does not understand about farmers:

It’s not all about profit

I recently argued with a non-farmer about financially incentivizing farmers to reclaim the land, move out of the animal husbandry system, and grow more trees. Tree growing has for many years been more lucrative than many beef and sheep farming enterprises, yet forestry has little scope among farmers. Financial incentives alone are not enough to involve farmers in a carbon farming system of production. It’s not all about profit.

crops don’t grow everywhere

Jorge Monbiot, author and environmental/political activist, most recently RTÉs. appeared on primetime Declaring that all animal agriculture should be stopped. In fact, he said that eating eggs, dairy, and beef was an “indulgence.” What about all the grasslands and valleys in the world? Crops and pulses will not grow on this land, these lands and ruminants are also part of the biodiversity on planet earth, they should be part of the plan. Crops do not grow everywhere.

timing is important

Farmers are the basic time managers, they have to adjust their working day to different seasons, length of daylight and day length. The new plans proposed under EU CAP Reform 2023-2027 include ‘actions’ to be taken by farmers of some description. Under column 1 there is a menu of actions for ECO plans and in column 11 for the new ACRES plan. Add another menu of actions if a farmer participates in the reduction of nitrates.

Works mean more work, and this is proving to be a major deterrent for farmers taking up such schemes, as both full-time and part-time farmers are the poor of the time. Timing is important.

tradition and pride

Tradition matters in farming communities, often more so than in urban communities. People in towns and cities move home and community based on their disposable income and social status. Farmers generally live where they were born and were born. If you combine this with the limited profit ambition of some farmers, all the social media clicks and financial incentives in the world will not change their way of life.

Farmers don’t like to dictate

Many farmers do not like being told what to do. In my opinion this stems from the fact that most of the farmers have always been self-employed. They are used to making decisions for themselves.

Some people like to go against the populist mood. For example, if cattle for refining are scarce and prices are high, many farmers hold off for higher prices, yet many panic when prices are on the floor, a counter-cyclical argument that is a non-trivial one. The farmer cannot understand.

they are flexible

Farmers have faced much tougher storms than the current GHG reduction targets. Bad weather, bad prices, taxation, succession issues, currency devaluation, EU directives and disease are just a few of the long list of events and issues that have hardened farmers to become strong and resilient individuals.

Environmentalists, general public and policy makers have a long way to go in understanding the mindset of farmers, yet doing so is absolutely necessary to achieve GHG reduction goals. Now is the time for environmentalists and agronomists to work together instead of wasting time in polarized debates.

When we reach the year 2050 and beyond, I am sure that science will prevail and we will see agriculture and agriculture as star performers in halting global warming and perhaps global cooling by sequestering carbon. will also contribute. produced by other industries.

Now it’s time to start working together.

Mike Brady is the Managing Director at Brady Group’s Agricultural Advisors and Land Agents; mike@bradygroup.ie