I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak to Senators again as a follow-up to my annual transition statement in December of last year. It is important to restate the long-term policy vision for the agricultural sector which is "an approach to carbon neutrality which does not compromise the capacity for sustainable food production", as referred to in the national mitigation plan. This is consistent with the principles of both the Paris Agreement and the European Council conclusions of October 2014, which recognise the role of agriculture and land use in tackling climate change and their contribution to achieving climate ambitions. With what is internationally recognised as one of the most carbon-efficient systems of food production in the European Union, there are inherent challenges in effecting climate emission reductions in the agriculture sector. While acknowledging that agriculture is contributing to emissions, the sector should also be seen as part of the solution to our transition to a low-carbon, climate resilient economy and society. As highlighted previously, we are taking a three pillar approach to emissions reductions in the sector. The first is through abatement measures and reducing emissions where we can, the second is through increased carbon sequestration, and the third is through displacement of fossil fuel and energy intensive materials with renewable sources.
The sector continues to engage with the climate change challenge and the level of this transition. We continue to invest in our mitigation measures, and we have, through the rural development programme, approximately 49,000 farmers active in GLAS and almost 25,000 farmers participating in the beef data and genomics programme, with more than 1 million animals genotyped to date. Building on the success of the beef data and genomics programme, last month I announced a new pilot scheme targeted at suckler farmers, the beef environmental efficiency pilot. This new scheme will aim to improve further the carbon efficiency of beef production. I have provided a budget of €20 million in 2019 for the roll-out of this programme. Given the importance of afforestation to achievement of sequestration ambitions, €106 million has been made available by my Department to support afforestation and other forest initiatives with significant improvements in grant and premium rates under the agroforestry and forestry for fibre options in 2019.
One of the mitigation measures we have identified and introduced in 2018 is a knowledge transfer group scheme for forestry. Other forest measures taken this year include increasing the rate of financial support across all categories, with larger increases for broadleaf planting. A change in supports for road building was also made. We have also seen the introduction of the woodland environmental fund which will help to expand Ireland's native woodland resource. The third strand of our climate policy approach focused on energy efficiency, energy provision from biomass and other agricultural products, and on the use of wood products to substitute for materials associated with high emissions such as steel, concrete and fossil fuels. As energy efficiency measures, our farmers are availing of investment options such as biomass boilers and air source heat pumps under the targeted agricultural modernisation scheme, TAMS II, and the pig and poultry and young farmers capital investment schemes. Support schemes for the installation of renewable energy technologies are also available.
The year 2018 also saw the launch of a new collaborative initiative between the Government and industry, the agricultural sustainability support and advisory programme, ASSAP, which involves the appointment of 30 advisers to work with farmers, initially on water quality issues. The Department, Bord Bia, and Teagasc are working together to progress further how to effect positive change at farm level through research, advisory services and carbon audits. Since its inception, more than 200,000 carbon audits have been completed on Irish dairy and beef farms through the Origin Green programme.
A significant number of measures are in place but I am not complacent on this important issue and my Department continues to review and develop new measures that will realise the ambition for the sector. We are developing a roadmap to ensure that the future development of agricultural land use, including the forestry sector, will be built upon environmental sustainability and contribute fairly to Ireland's climate, air and energy targets. On future mitigation, the roadmap will be guided by the best available research and science, including the recently published research by Teagasc, "A Marginal Abatement Cost Curve for Irish Agriculture", relating to mitigation options for the period 2021 to 2030 with regard to both greenhouse gases and ammonia. A sustainable energy roadmap is also being prepared to guide future policymaking on both energy efficiency and energy generation. Energy efficiency measures can provide a win-win for the farmer and the environment, and the adoption of renewable technologies on-farm as well as on-site energy generation and supply of biomass materials can provide profitability gains which underpin the sustainable production system, all of which contributes to reducing Ireland’s emissions.
With regard to adaptation to climate change, my Department is preparing its first statutory adaptation plan for the three areas identified in the national adaptation framework.