IFA president Tim Cullinan has criticised the Government for overlooking the potential of farms to generate renewable energy.
While Cullinan has welcomed the announcement of a solar farm coming on to the grid in Cork, he says it is a lost opportunity to include farmers at a local level.
"Almost every farm has the potential to generate renewable energy for its own use and ultimately to generate power for the national grid. However, the focus of the Government has been on large-scale projects.
"A workable microgeneration scheme could reduce input costs, provide a supplementary income source for 130,000 farmers and create much-needed rural employment.
“There needs to be a clear Government strategy to facilitate grid connections for farmers and properly support the installation of rooftop solar and other key infrastructure.
“The recently published draft microgeneration support scheme, which was out for public consultation, is inadequate and will not work for farmers.
"The Government needs to harness the potential of on-farm generation instead of just paying it lip service,” he said.
“Farmers want to be central players in Ireland’s energy transition.
"Despite our natural advantage in producing bioenergy due to our mild climate and fertile land, Ireland is ranked 27th out of 28 member states regarding its use of renewable heat.”
Bioenergy has the potential to reduce the environmental impact of the agricultural sector, in particular biogas, which has significant environmental benefits by way of a reduction in emissions and increased energy security, the IFA said.
Cullinan firmly believes “it is vital that farmers and communities are supported and that barriers are removed for them to assist in Ireland’s future energy generation”.