Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Agriculture Industry

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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458. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he anticipates a reduction in carbon emissions while maintaining the agrifood sector in its ability to deliver at a time of worldwide food shortages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17289/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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Food Vision 2030, the new stakeholder-led strategy for the Irish agri-food sector, 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 to fulfil the vision of Ireland becoming a world leader in Sustainable Food Systems over the next decade, 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. I recently chaired the second High-Level Implementation Committee meeting of Food Vision 2030, where we discussed progress on implementing key Food Vision priorities, including the work of a new Food Vision Environmental Group and a Food Vision Dairy Group.

In the context of the current crisis following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is important to recognise that Ireland is part of the EU single market and participates in the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), which is the key mechanism for ensuring food security throughout Europe. Significant implications are being seen across all sectors, including the agri-food sector. As well as the immediate humanitarian crisis, which must take priority, we need to take the necessary steps to ensure that food security is maintained, for EU citizens, for the Ukrainian people and in the wider global context. Following discussions at these meetings the European Commission announced on Wednesday 23 March, via the communication “Safeguarding food security and reinforcing the resilience of food systems”, a range of actions to enhance global food security and to support farmers and consumers in the EU in light of rising food prices and input costs.

At farm level, the crisis is already impacting very significantly on the price of animal feed, fertiliser and fuel. Within my Department, I have established a Rapid Response Team, chaired by the Secretary General, to actively monitor the impacts on agri-food supply chains and to contribute to the whole of Government response to this crisis. I have tasked a National Fodder and Food Security Committee headed by Teagasc to prepare an industry response to the emerging crisis in feed, fodder, fertiliser and other inputs, and to develop contingency plans and advice to assist farmers in managing their farm enterprises. On 22nd March, the Government approved my proposal for a targeted intervention package for the tillage sector and a multi-species sward initiative, worth over €12 million to support Irish farmers. This package is aimed at producing more native crops and reducing dependency on imports, and on producing crops with a low demand for chemical fertiliser.

I will continue to engage with all our stakeholders and will continue to work across Government, and with our European partners, to respond to this crisis using all of the tools at our disposal.


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