The Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, T.D., today welcomed the launch of the All of Government Plan to tackle climate disruption drawing attention to the very challenging but significant commitment by Agriculture as part of this national plan.

The Minister said, “This all-of-Government plan today sets our vision and pathway to achieve reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions and make Ireland a better place for us now and for generations to come. The contribution from Agriculture to this national ambition is significant and includes not only a commitment to efficiency gains but also carbon removals through forestry and management of organic soils and identifies opportunities for a contribution to energy production and efficiency.”

Ireland’s food producers and farmers have a tremendous reputation internationally in terms of the sustainability of the food and drink we produce. It is a reputation that we can be justifiably proud of. With a growing global demand for food and a rapidly evolving market place seeking confirmation of our sustainability credential, farmers have engaged proactively in recent years in improving the carbon footprint of our produce.

This all-of-Government plan sets an ambitious target for the sector that is challenging and requires the sector to innovate and to increase the delivery of solutions to both enhancing productivity and reducing emissions. Importantly, it also credits the agriculture sector with the significant investment to-date in afforestation, provides opportunities for carbon removal through land management and sets balanced targets in terms of reducing emissions. I have no doubt that the sector once again will rise to this challenge and reduce emissions so that Ireland remains a world leader in sustainable climate smart food production.

Minister Creed said “Irish farmers are innovative, resilient and committed to working together to find solutions in the face of this enormous challenge. As custodians of the land they are already committed to sustainability, and this commitment will ensure a vibrant rural economy for generations to come.”

Even in a successfully de-carbonised Ireland, agriculture emissions as a percentage of the total will still be significant. There is significant potential to influence how we develop our next CAP strategic plan and Agri-food strategy. There is a need to show leadership in how we address climate action and sustainability while maintaining traceable and welfare friendly food output.

Minister Creed added that “A step-up will be necessary within the sector – that means making changes on each and every one of our 139,000 plus farms. This is not going to be easy… change is never easy and some of these measures will take time to deliver. However, it is critical that we take action now, because we have to meet our National obligations, but also because maintaining our green credentials is fundamental to underpinning the competitiveness of our agri-food sector”.

Importantly, this plan is a balanced approach, recognising the importance of supporting global food supply and  the need for a vibrant rural economy but,  importantly,  contributing to national emissions reduction targets. Provided we engage early and strongly with measures identified in the Teagasc MACC curve, we have a framework for emissions reductions and sequestration that we can move forward with.

Minister Creed concluded, “These commitments are not without challenge, and require collaboration, co-operation and collective responsibility to meet them. We do not yet know what science will deliver in the future and we will continue to work with all stakeholders, engaging our farmers, industry, researchers, advisers, civil society and government to identify technological solutions and new business models to drive innovation to meet this challenge.”

This challenge will be a key part of our engagement across the department’s CAP consultation as well as its food sector development strategy to 2030. The Department will also be publishing a climate action plan for consultation in the coming weeks.