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27/07/2021

WATCH: Limerick farmer’s quest to own carbon he sequesters

A COUNTY Limerick man has launched a campaign to illustrate how farmers are being “demonised wrongly in the climate change debate”.

An excellent attendance was at the open air and socially distanced event at John Hourigan’s dairy farm in Murroe.

From reading many reports you would think that Irish farmers and their cattle are solely responsible for global warming. Mr Hourigan has erected a sign to show that on this farm they “produce far, far less carbon than we sequester”.

It reads: “Welcome to Hourigan’s dairy farm - this is a carbon neutral farm”. It includes details of the amount of carbon produced and the amount of carbon sequestered by forestry and grassland. Sequester is taking or capturing carbon out of the air.

“We are producing approximately 717 tonnes of carbon but we take out 1,000 tonnes. We are a little bit unusual but if every farmer takes some action. Most of them wouldn't be carbon positive like we are but every farm does take some carbon out of the air,” said Mr Hourigan.

The reason he says he is a “little bit unusual” is because he has 204 acres of forestry in three parts of Tipperary, Clare and Limerick. However, he points to the many beautiful mature trees, hedgerows and fields full of grass all around him in Murroe, which are replicated on practically every Irish farm.

“I take far more carbon out but I get no acknowledgement whatsoever for the carbon I take out of the air. Eamon Ryan (minister for environment, climate and communication) takes the view that the carbon that I produce is my property but the carbon I take out of the air is his property and that’s my big bone of contention. And that's what today was all about,” said Mr Hourigan.

This was summed up well by a sign created by the expert in catchy agri slogans, David Thompson – “Hands off our carbon credits”.

Cathaoirleach of the Cappamore-Kilmallock Municipal District John Egan was another noted attendee.

Mr Hourigan said he wants the right to own the carbon which he takes out of the air.

“It’s a natural right, it’s a civil right in my view. The main message we gave out today was that no farmer should plant land or get involved in any carbon mitigation measures until such time as we are actually acknowledged and the right to own what we have sequestered. It's a hugely, hugely important issue,” said Mr Hourigan, who has the full support of family - wife Trish and children Hazel, Eoin and Finn - in his campaign.

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