Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Ceisteanna (66)

Bernard Durkan


66. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he remains satisfied that the agrifood sector will continue in line with expectations while at the same time meeting carbon reduction targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49102/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Food Wise 2025 is the current ten-year strategy for the agri-food sector and it underlines the sector’s unique and special position within the Irish economy and illustrates the potential which exists for the sector to develop further. Food Wise contains a vision of thriving primary producers and agri-food businesses at the heart of vibrant communities across the country and was built upon five cross-cutting themes – environmental sustainability, market development, competitiveness, innovation and human capital.

The Food Wise 2025 strategy aims to grow the Irish agri-food sector in an economic, environmental and socially sustainable manner, building on our strengths in the production of safe, healthy and nutritious food. In terms of carbon footprint per unit of output, Ireland is already one of the EU’s most efficient producers of milk and beef. Under Food Wise we are implementing measures to drive down the carbon intensity of our food production even further, resulting in both economic returns and environmental sustainability.

Preparations are now underway for the next ten-year strategy for the agri-food sector to 2030. A public consultation was launched in July to ascertain the views of all stakeholders on the direction of the sector to 2030 and a national stakeholder consultation event was held on 16 October in the Aviva Stadium.

I will shortly convene a Committee made up of representatives from across the sector. The Committee will be tasked with preparing a strategy for the development of the agri-food sector for the period to 2030. The strategy will outline the vision and key objectives, with associated actions, required to ensure the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the agri-food sector in the decade ahead. A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) will also be conducted in parallel with the work of the Committee. This is to ensure that environmental considerations are fully integrated into the preparation of the strategy and is a legal requirement. It is anticipated that the overall process will be complete, and the new strategy launched in mid-2020.

The All-of-Government Plan to tackle climate breakdown identifies a series of actions for the agriculture, forestry and land-use sector that ensure a fair contribution from agriculture and land use to our transition to a low carbon economy and society. This reflects our policy approach to achieving carbon neutrality without comprising sustainable food production and sets a target to reduce emissions from agriculture by between 10 - 15% by 2030, which is extremely ambitious.

The Teagasc Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC) provides a suite of actions that provide opportunities for emissions reductions including both efficiency measures, such as the Dairy EBI programme, and technical measures such as changes in fertiliser type or low emissions slurry spreading. This is in addition to a series of forestry and bioeceonomy measures.

Reducing emissions between now and 2030 will require us to manage the emissions profile from the sector between now and then through mobilisation of as many of these actions as possible, as early as possible, with high rates of adoption across our 139,000 farms.