Thursday, 11 April 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
Food Wise 2025, the current agrifood plan for the country, is about sustainable growth and expansion. It is about ensuring that young people are still attracted to farming as a way of life and as a way of deriving an income. It is also about driving efficiency: driving down the carbon efficiency of how we produce food while sustainably realising the potential of a growing and expanding dairy sector. Ireland produces dairy product at the lowest carbon intensity on the planet. Surely it makes sense for countries that have the capacity to produce dairy product, which is a huge part of human nutrition globally, and who do this best from a climate and emissions intensity perspective, to allow their industries to grow and expand.
In respect of beef, Ireland is probably in the top 30% in terms of efficiency and we need to do more in that regard. Part of the challenge is the herd size. We are breeding more efficiency into our breeds and supporting farmers financially in making that change through the beef genomic scheme and other innovative schemes. We will continue to support this sector to make the changes it needs to make to become more climate aware and emissions efficient. This does not mean the farming and food industry does not have a bright future of growth and expansion.