GUINNESS HAS announced that it is launching a three-year barley pilot scheme which will aim to cut the carbon footprint associated with the production of the world-famous stout.
Ireland has been selected as the location for the pilot, which aims to drive positive outcomes for both the planet and the livelihood of farmers.
The approach the company is taking is known as 'regenerative agriculture', a concept whereby farming works in harmony with the natural environment to put back more than is taken out.
The three-year farm-based programme intends to highlight opportunities for reducing the carbon emissions of barley production.
The first phase in 2022 will begin with at least 40 farms across spring and winter barley sowing, with more farmers coming on board as the pilot develops.
Guinness will work in collaboration with Irish farmers and suppliers including, Boortmalt, Glanbia and Comex McKinnon, to understand the most effective regenerative practices, adapted to the local context and the specific needs of Irish barley production.
John Kennedy, President of Diageo Europe, commented:
"This pilot is the first such programme being implemented by Diageo and the outcomes will help inform other potential opportunities, not just in Ireland, but in other countries where we source raw materials.
"We will openly share the results from the pilot programme so that other farms can learn and adopt practices that have demonstrated the highest potential impact from an environmental and farm profitability standpoint," he said.
"Like the Irish farming community, we are ‘all in’ for the long haul – for our people, products, partners and planet. At St. James’s Gate, we are only 263 years into our 9,000 year lease and we will never settle in pursuit of a more sustainable future."
Walter Furlong Junior, one of the farmers involved in the pilot, said regenerative agriculture is "not a complicated process - it works in harmony with nature whilst providing a commercial benefit for farmers."
"We already use regenerative agricultural practices and have seen a marked improvement in the quality of the soil on our farm. It is a highly effective approach that leads to much better outcomes," he said.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD said he welcomed the announcement of the pilot.
"This pilot shows the importance of sectors working together to reduce emissions. It is welcome that one of Ireland’s most iconic brands is taking a strong leadership position on farming and the environment, as we all work towards reducing carbon emissions and meeting our ambitious but necessary climate change targets.
"Delivering on the three pillars of sustainability – environmental, social and economic – is a key priority of mine and is core to the Food Vision 2030 strategy I am implementing. I look forward to the roll-out of the programme and continued engagement with Guinness on its progress."