Dáil debates

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Other Questions

Food Harvest 2020 Strategy

10:10 am

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank Deputy Durkan for raising this very important issue. As our sector grows and expands this issue will become even more significant. We need to respond to the questions regarding the sustainability of the growth of Irish agriculture. I contend that we will have a very impressive growth period in agriculture but this will be managed in a sustainable way.

It is vital that in terms of setting EU climate change policy to 2030 there is coherence with EU agriculture and food security policy. The October 2014 European Council conclusions accepted some critical principles for the multiple objectives of agriculture and the land use sector, including recognition of the limited cost-effective mitigation options available. I met with Commissioner Cañete, the Spanish climate change Commissioner, last month, with a view to building upon the October conclusions. I reiterated the reality of the challenges faced by the Irish agriculture sector and which need to be recognised in future EU climate and food policies. Officials from my Department and other Departments are applying a whole-of-government approach to engagement with the Commission in order to seek an appropriate framework for agriculture within EU climate policy. My Department has also established an agriculture climate change committee, which includes Teagasc, EPA and Bord Bia, which is informing the development of national and EU policy on agriculture and climate change.

As our largest indigenous industry, it is hugely important that we ensure the continued development of our agri-food sector. The Deputy will have heard me say previously that the real challenge is to produce more while mitigating our emissions. This can be achieved by sustainable intensification where the focus is on the emissions intensity of our production systems. We have an excellent record in this regard and it is independently and internationally recognised that ours is one of the most climate and resource-efficient agri-food production systems in the world.


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