Written answers

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Agriculture Industry

Photo of Matt CarthyMatt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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145. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the allocation within the budget of his Department that is earmarked to facilitate growth within the domestic seed potato industry; the estimated tonnage of seed potato that is expected to be produced domestically in each of the years 2022 to 2025; the estimated tonnage it is expected that will be imported from the European Union; and the guarantees provided to the domestic sector to protect investments it has made to increase production in the aftermath of Brexit. [6888/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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I am fully committed to supporting the revival of the domestic seed potato sector. Investment in the domestic seed potato industry is supported through a range of supports and budgetary lines within my Department.

By way of example:

- The operation of the Seed Certification Scheme for the production of certified seed. My Department will make available all necessary resources to ensure that all seed crops entered for the scheme are certified to the highest standards;

- Funding to the Teagasc potato breeding programme at Oak Park;

- Funding to growers for specialist equipment under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS II); and

- Investment of just under €240,000 in 2021 to upgrade facilities at the Tops Potato Centre to cater for an increase in the necessary disease-free mini-tuber stocks.

Projections on future domestic production and imports are commercial matters that are dependent on decisions made by those in the sector.

I am committed to the seed potato industry and will provide as much support as possible in reviving and expanding the sector. I think there is genuine potential here to return the sector to its heyday. However, further expansion of the seed potato area must be industry-led.

Photo of Joe CareyJoe Carey (Clare, Fine Gael)
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146. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps that have been taken to develop the bioeconomy in Ireland and the potential benefits for farmers. [6791/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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Building on the 2018 National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy, the area has more recently been supported through political recognition in the Programme for Government, Food Vision 2030, and the Climate Action Plan 2021.

Principally, the development of the bioeconomy has been focused on three areas: Investments in research, innovation and skills; Development of markets and competitiveness; and Reinforced policy co-ordination and stakeholder engagement.

For example, there has been significant investment by all relevant national research and innovation funders, including my own Department, in funding projects, National Research Centres, Regional and Technology Clusters and Postgraduate opportunities to support bioeconomy development.

More specifically, my Department has supported bioeconomy development for farmers by funding European Innovation Partnership (EIP) cooperation projects under CAP co-funding mechanisms. These allow for sustainable and higher value opportunities in how we utilise grass and develop farm biogas. Other national funders have enabled research into the development of a climate neutral demonstration farm.

Additionally, my Department in conjunction with the Department of the Environment, Climate & Communications, coordinates a strategic approach to the development of the bioeconomy through a Cross Government Policy Implementation Group and a broader Bioeconomy Forum. It is anticipated that the policy implementation group will propose a bioeconomy action plan to Government by the end of 2022, and the Bioeconomy Forum will report to the implementation group in mid 2022 to inform the development of that plan.

I am confident that all of these steps I have outlined are advancing the development of the Irish bioeconomy as a green business model, that creates new sources of income for many people in the agri-food sector, especially the primary producer.

This new business model will be founded on nature-based and bio-based products that generate added value and will be essential in promoting our transition to a circular and carbon-neutral economy.


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