Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Food Industry

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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447. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he expects Ireland's carbon reduction targets to be achievable in Ireland without adversely affecting the agrifood production sector. [7800/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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The agri-food sector has benefited from an approach to strategic planning through the development of ten-year stakeholder-led strategies, revised every five years. Since their inception twenty years ago, these strategies have ensured that the sector has a coherent, stakeholder-led vision and strategy to underpin the sector’s continued development.

The new stakeholder strategy for the Irish agri-food sector, Food Vision 2030, was launched by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD, myself and Ministerial colleagues Ministers of State Hackett and Heydon on 3rd August 2021.

The vision of the new Strategy is that“Ireland will become a world leader in Sustainable Food Systems over the next decade. This should deliver significant benefits for the Irish agri-food sector itself, for Irish society and the environment. In demonstrating the Irish agri-food sector meets the highest standards of sustainability – economic, environmental, and social – this should also provide the basis for the future competitive advantage of the sector. By adopting an integrated food systems approach, Ireland will seek to become a global leader of innovation for sustainable food and agriculture systems, producing safe, nutritious, and high-value food that tastes great, while protecting and enhancing our natural and cultural resources and contributing to vibrant rural and coastal communities and the national economy”.

I believe Food Vision is a landmark for the Irish agri-food sector with the potential to transform agriculture, food, forestry and marine in the period to 2030, with economic, environmental and social sustainability at its core. Some 200 actions under 22 goals are proposed, guided by four high-level missions:

1. A Climate Smart, Environmentally Sustainable Agri-Food Sector

2. Viable and Resilient Primary Producers with Enhanced Well-Being

3. Food that is safe, nutritious and appealing: trusted and valued at home and abroad

4. An Innovative, Competitive and Resilient Agri-Food Sector, driven by Technology and Talent.

There are seven Goals in Mission 1 “A Climate Smart, Environmentally Sustainable Agri-food Sector” which aim to deliver a climate-neutral food system by 2050, with verifiable progress achieved by 2030, encompassing emissions reductions, carbon sequestration, improvements in air quality, restoration and enhancement of biodiversity, improvements in water quality, development of diverse forests, enhanced seafood sustainability, exploring the bioeconomy and strengthening Origin Green. On 4 November Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2021 was launched - this is the most ambitious Climate Action Plan ever produced. The commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are challenging but I know the sector is committed to the challenge. Delivering real results will require collaboration, cooperation, and a sense of shared responsibility between citizens, industry and the State to deliver our environmental ambitions.

Food Vision 2030 acknowledges that in general, future environmental targets are likely to be set by legislation and commits to participating in the various target-setting processes with a view to the ultimate commitment to be climate neutral by 2050.

I believe that the success of this Strategy will depend on effective implementation and oversight. For this reason, a Monitoring and Implementation Framework is included in the Strategy. This highlights areas for collaboration and partnership within the sector but also with key external stakeholders. It also details oversight and monitoring mechanisms for implementation, including the establishment of a High Level Implementation Committee (HLIC). Significant detail is also given on the critically important area of environmental monitoring, including the establishment of a dedicated environmental monitoring group. A detailed Implementation Plan will be published soon.

In line with one of the outcomes of that first implementation meeting, I established a Food Vision Dairy Group, whose first task will be to “produce a detailed plan by Q2 2022 to manage the sustainable environmental footprint of the dairy sector”. Given the importance of providing certainty for the sector, I tasked the Group to provide an initial report to me by end March setting out how emissions associated with the dairy sector can be stabilised, and then reduced, with a final plan to be submitted by the end of quarter two.

A key priority for the Food Vision Dairy Group is ensuring that we continue to provide a platform of sustainability for our farmers and our sector, economically, environmentally and socially. The new Group includes representatives from the farming organisations, the dairy industry, my Department and relevant agencies.

I want to ensure the long-term viability of the sector because it is an exciting sector for our farm families. We will continue to be a global leader in the years and decades ahead.


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