Thursday, 26 April 2018
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
182. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which his Department can encourage mitigation action in respect of greenhouse gases with the minimum impact on agricultural production; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18502/18]
183. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the five steps likely to make a positive contribution throughout the agricultural sector in respect of greenhouse gas reduction and in view of the need to maximise output from the agrifood sector in tandem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18503/18]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 182 and 183 together.
Officials from my Department are involved in a number of cross-departmental committees and technical analysis groups established to progress the national climate action agenda.
In the agriculture sector we have focussed strongly on improving the efficiency of Irish farming which is key to reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. By way of example, in the five-year period 2012-2016, dairy cow numbers have increased by 22% and corresponding milk production by 27% while emissions increased just 8% demonstrating a level of decoupling is occurring.
There is clear recognition in Food Wise 2025 that the continued growth of the sector must be on the basis of sustainable intensification. I firmly believe that we can contribute to GHG mitigation objectives while safe guarding our food production by continuing to make improvements in areas such as:
- animal breeding strategies
- grassland management
- nutrient management
- animal health and welfare
- feeding strategies that maximise the efficiency of our grass based production system.
Innovation and technology will also play an increasing role in supporting the sector to deliver on the sustainability agenda, we are already seeing how technology is being used for calculating the carbon footprint of farms and in other areas such as grass measurement.
My Department continues to invest heavily in a number of schemes and measures to support the sector to grow on a sustainable basis such as GLAS - our Agri-Environment Scheme, the Beef Data and Genomics Programme and the Origin Green initiative. While our knowledge transfer programmes are key to bringing the latest innovative sustainability research and practices direct to farmers.
The efficiency of our temperate grassland based production system is well recognised and we are very fortunate to live in a country where our climate favours such a system.