Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Questions (784)

Joe O'Brien


784. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the measures his Department plans to take during the lifetime of this Government to reduce the emissions from the intensive pig industry; and if he will provide financial and other supports to assist and enable existing piggeries to convert to an extensive system of pig production in view of the overall policy to reduce CO2 emissions. [31035/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The pig industry is an important part of the Irish Agri-food sector exporting in excess of €890 million worth of product in 2019, an 8% increase from 2018. The industry has invested heavily in the last decade which has allowed it to grow its exports by over €500 million in the period 2010-2019.

 In line with Programme for Government commitments, the recently published Climate Action (Amendment) Bill sets out the Government’s ambition to transition to a climate neutral economy out to 2050. All sections of the economy will need to contribute to this national objective, including agriculture, and indeed the pig sector. Nevertheless, It should be noted that greenhouse gas emissions from the pig herd account for a very small percentage of overall agriculture emissions.

 In terms of investments, the Department is currently focused on supporting animal health and welfare through industry programmes and capital investment. In TAMS we have the Pig and Poultry Investment Scheme which is part of a suite of 7 schemes under TAMS II.  Approximately 50 investment items are grant aided under this measure and to date 313 pig farmers have been approved to purchase investment items under this scheme. In relation to payments, 137 applicants have already been paid €1.4 million under the Pig and Poultry Investment Scheme. The principal objective of the Scheme is to assist farmers purchase new equipment for the upgrading of pig and poultry units on their farms thereby supporting farmers’ compliance with animal welfare legislative requirements under Council Directive 2008/120/EC of 18 Dec 2008 laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs.

In addition, supports are available for Low Emission Slurry Spreading (LESS) technology, which will reduce ammonia emissions from the land spreading of organic manures. Over €32 million has been grant aided under the Low Emission Slurry Spreading Scheme to date. Pig units tend to have high energy demands and supports for renewable energy technologies are also available under the Pig and Poultry Investment Scheme. In time, such technologies will help lower CO2 emissions.

A request for a revision to the ceiling for the Pig and Poultry Investment Scheme of TAMS II has been received.  The request is for an amendment to increase the upper investment limit under the Pig and Poultry Investment Scheme. The request to increase this investment limit will be considered in light of the available budget.