Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Food Industry

Photo of Holly CairnsHolly Cairns (Cork South West, Social Democrats)
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179. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he is taking to improve national food security and sovereignty. [17043/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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Ireland is among the most food secure countries in the world.

In that context 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.

Specifically in the context of the Ukrainian crisis, 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. Following recent discussions at EU level, the European Commission announced on Wednesday 23rd 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. The communication sets out actions in three areas:

- First, it presents immediate actions to safeguard food security in Ukraine and around the world.

- Second, it addresses the challenge of food stability in the EU's food system, with a range of measures to support our farmers and maintain affordability for our citizens.

- Finally, it confirms the EU agenda to make our food system sustainable and resilient in the years to come.

It includes €500 million to support farmers most affected and agreement to deploy measures to support specific markets and allow for increased levels of advances of direct payments later this year. Other actions approved included a new self-standing Temporary Crisis Framework (TCF) for state aid and allowing Member States to derogate from certain greening obligations in 2022 to bring additional agricultural land into production. It includes an allocation of €15.8 million for Ireland, which can be topped up by national funding.

I am examining ways to best mobilise this support as soon as possible, taking account of the detailed requirements and conditionality attached to this exceptional aid provision. The EU package also includes plans to deploy market safety net measures to support specific markets including private storage aid for pigmeat. 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.

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 also established the National Fodder and Food Security Committee headed by Teagasc and tasked it 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.

In addition, on the future of Ireland's agri-food sector generally, you will be aware that the new Food Vision 2030 strategy was launched last August. Food Vision is a landmark for the Irish agri-food sector and is honest and upfront about the challenges ahead. Crucially, it proposes solutions and charts a pathway to sustainability in all its dimensions. Food Vision aims for Ireland to be a world leader in Sustainable Food Systems, which would deliver food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, environmental and social basis to generate food and nutrition for future generations are not compromised. This will deliver significant benefits for the Irish agri-food sector itself, for Irish society and the environment.

I am taking a very proactive approach to the crisis in Ukraine. We must protect our farm families and their businesses through this period of significant upheaval.


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