I propose to take Questions Nos. 2057 and 2058 together.
I am advised by Teagasc that the future scenarios they explored with respect to the dairy and beef herd reflect a realistic assessment of market prospects for the two sectors, including the effects of CAP Reform, Brexit and other trade considerations, none of which are known with certainty. Given that milk production is by a long way Ireland’s most profitable broad acre agricultural activity, reducing the size of the dairy herd in favour of “diversification” was deemed to be an unrealistic scenario that did not warrant exploration. A further reason for the exclusion of such a scenario is that the cultivation of permanent grassland itself leads to large and sustained emissions of CO2.
That said, my Department is committed to achieving sustainable development and future growth of the horticultural sector which is demonstrated through
- the State-funded Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector. For 2019, my Department has committed over €6 million in funding through the Commercial Horticulture Grant Aid Scheme.
- the EU-funded Producer Organisation Scheme - this provides an important mechanism for producers to achieve a more sustainable balance in the supply chain through collaboration and enhancing bargaining power by becoming part of a larger supply base. The Scheme also aims to increase market orientation among EU growers, encourage innovation, promote fruit and vegetables consumption, increase grower’s competitiveness and improve marketing, product quality and the environmental aspects of production.
Furthermore, my Department completed a review of Organic supports and subsequently published a development plan to 2025 identifying key opportunities in the organic sector. A targeted reopening of the organic scheme took place to support this objective. This should prove beneficial to both the environment and climate change.
The agricultural mitigation measures, land use mitigation measures and energy mitigation measures included in the MACC report are all based on peer reviewed publication, as cited extensively in the report. If any concerns were raised in peer review, these would be incorporated into a manuscript prior to publication and, therefore, given due consideration before the measures were included in the MACC report. In addition, within the Climate Action Plan, there is a specific action on reviewing the MACC and identification of additional abatement opportunities. Action 113 commits to commission an independent assessment of GHG abatement measures to establish what additional measures can be developed.