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Launch of The Signpost Programme

Launch of The Signpost Programme

The Signpost Programme was launched on Tuesday, 18 May. Hosted by RTÉ’s Ear to the Ground presenter Helen Carroll, the online webinar demonstrated how the new Teagasc led collaborative programme will support Irish farmers in reducing emissions from agriculture. Catch up on all the highlights here

The webinar gave attendees the opportunity to learn more about the programme along with meeting some of the participating Signpost Farmers.  Additionally, the European and marketplace perspective on the importance of climate action by Irish farmers was covered.

You can watch the recording back below:  

View The Signpost Programme Press Release here

Download The Signpost Programme Booklet here

Director's Speech to officially launch The Signpost Programme (PDF)


Why do we need The Signpost Programme?

Farmers farm first and foremost to make a living but we all have a duty to care for our environment. Globally, customers want to buy food with a low environmental footprint and as a country that exports 90% of our main products we have a need to produce food with a low environmental footprint. Agriculture in Ireland is responsible for about 35% of greenhouse gas emissions and now is the time to show that we can reduce those emissions and contribute to solving the climate issue. The Signpost Programme has been launched to help tackle climate change, the greatest environmental challenge of our time and one that threatens the favourable climate we have for agriculture in Ireland. We have the science and technology to reduce emissions, we have the whole industry aligned and wanting to make progress and we have the Signpost farmers willing to adopt these technologies and point the way forward.  In this short clip, Frank O'Mara, Director of Research at Teagasc tells us more.

What is The Signpost Programme?

The Signpost Programme is a partnership of over 30 companies and organisations from across the Irish agricultural sector. Tom O'Dwyer, Signpost Programme Manager tells us how together we will work with Irish farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce ammonia emissions, reduce nutrient losses, enhance biodiversity, save farmer costs and improve the efficiency of food production.

The Signpost Farmers will be central to the Signpost Programme and will point the way forward for all farmers to a climate smart farming future. We will work with the Signpost Farmers to enable them change how they farm, so that they reduce the emissions from agriculture on their farm while maintaining and improving profitability. Changes such as getting better value from nutrients in cattle slurry, using protected urea as their source of fertiliser nitrogen, incorporating clover in grassland swards, reducing overall amount of chemical fertiliser nitrogen applied, enhancing and improving biodiversity and hedgerows and reducing finishing age of animals finished on their farms. By making these changes and others, the Signpost Farmers can and will reduce emissions while maintaining profitability.

To engage all farmers in the campaign the Signpost Programme will be supported by Teagasc advisory and education staff as well as private and industry advisors. Siobhan Kavanagh, Signpost Programme Communications & Engagement Specialist tells us how the programme will be rolled out.

Change is not always easy but it is possible. It takes time but we can change how we farm and we have done so before. New solutions to reduce emissions from agriculture are available. Let's work together for climate action by Irish agriculture. Let's make a start today!  Find out more about The Signpost Programme at www.teagasc.ie/signpost 


Message from An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin

Farming is uniquely placed to be part of the solution to the climate crisis and farmers must be supported to continue to protect the carbon stored in our soils. An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD addressed the official launch of the Signpost Programme and recognised how the signpost programme will demonstrate solutions to optimise on-farm decision making for both the benefit of the planet and your pocket.

Message from the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue

Agriculture has a critically important social, economic and environmental value to Ireland. Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue is passionate about delivering for farm families and showcasing the fantastic work the agricultural sector does across society and welcomes the Signpost Programme as a whole industry initiative to lead climate action and the protection of the environment. 


Meet two of the Signpost Farmers

Ger McSweeney, Beef

Signpost demonstration farmers are located all around the country and are from dairy, beef, sheep, tillage and mixed enterprise farms. Ger McSweeney is one of the Beef Signpost Programme Farmers and farms in Millstreet, Co. Cork with his wife Karen and daughter Ella. In this short video Ger along with his Teagasc advisor Aisling Molloy give an introduction to the McSweeney family farm and outline the steps that will be taken as part of Ger's involvement in the Signpost Programme. 

Steven Fitzgerald, Dairy

Steven Fitzgerald is one of the Dairy Signpost Programme Farmers and farms in Aglish, Co. Waterford with his parents Richard & Noreen and wife Catriona and three small boys.  In this short video, Steven outlines the steps that he plans to take to reduce emissions on his farm.  Steven's Teagasc advisor Owen Power tells how farmers learn from other fathers and how the information that comes from Steven's farm will encourage other farmers to try new technologies to reduce gaseous emissions.


Government Support 

Our response to the climate and biodiversity crisis will determine our future. Our decisions around future land use will be critical. We have to work with nature and support farmers to implement nature based solutions to the many challenges we face. The EU's green deal and its farm to fork biodiversity strategies have set ambitious targets. Pippa Hackett, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine reassures farmers that this is the correct approach and she will support and empower farmers to move to a new model of farming. Over the next 10 years we can rise to the challenge and shape a better future. 

All sectors of the Irish economy including agriculture have a role to play on the journey towards carbon neutrality by 2050. Farmers, farm families and rural communities are part of the solution to our climate and biodiversity challenge. Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Martin Heydon looks forward to supporting and enabling farm families to take more positive actions to improve our countryside and environment.

Climate change is a real problem and requires us to act now. We can turn the challenges of climate change and the requirements for climate action into an economic opportunity for rural Ireland. Sustainable food production is essential and there's need now to move towards more sustainable systems in the future. Chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Jackie Cahill, TD looks forward to following the progress of the Signpost Programme and the Signpost Farmers.


Partner Support

The Signpost Programme is a collaborative partnership of farmers, industry and State Agencies, working together for climate action. In this clip, the industry partners come together to tell us what being involved in the programme means to them and how they believe a more sustainable model of agriculture is achievable. By working together we will provide farmers with the information and knowledge necessary to make better and more sustainable decisions. We are all working together now for future generations!

With all parties working together, the Signpost Programme can guide Irish agriculture through the changes over the next decade and support farmers as they change and adapt their farming practices. In this short clip, some of the farm organisations involved tell us why they are delighted to support the Signpost Programme.