For Oral Answer on : 26/05/2022
Question Number(s): 123 Question Reference(s): 26636/22
Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine if he will report on the measures that are being taken by his Department to assist farmers in contributing to the national effort to reduce climate-based emissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As the Deputy may be aware, the agriculture sector is required to required to reduce emissions by between 22-30% by 2030, based on a 2018 baseline of 23MT CO2 eq.
This is a challenging target for the sector, but it is also a target that will present opportunities for Irish farmers. I believe our farm families are committed to taking a leadership role in meeting our overall climate ambitions.
Significant work has been done to date to develop a pathway to achieve the emissions reductions required.
The Teagasc Marginal Abatement Cost Curve was the original source, and it has been built upon by both Ag Climatise and the Climate Action Plan of 2021. I recently established a Food Vision 2030 dairy group to set out specific actions on how emissions reduction in the dairy sector will be achieved. A beef and sheep group with a similar objective will soon be established.
The advisory services both within Teagasc and the private network, are working closely with farmers to advise them of the transition necessary on their farms.
Teagasc has establishment a network of model farms under their signpost programme. These farms are considered best in class when it comes to climate smart agriculture, supporting peer to peer learning between farmers.
One of the most important actions farmers can take is to reduce their dependence on chemical nitrogen. I have put in place additional supports this year to encourage farmers to transition to clover and multispecies swards.
The Department to continues to financially support the uptake of low emissions slurry spreading technology. These measures are important enabling actions to support the chemical nitrogen reduction required.
Under the CAP Strategic Plan, farmers will be rewarded for delivering environmental services through two distinct pathways.
Firstly, the establishment of a voluntary eco-scheme incentive as part of Pillar I direct payments will financially reward farmers for providing additional environmental action.
Secondly, voluntary participation in results-based schemes established in Pillar II Rural Development Programme Schemes such as the proposed new National Agri-Environment Scheme (AECM), Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme, and Organic Farming Scheme will directly assist in meeting the targets outlined and in the financial sustainability of participating farmers.
My Department has also been very invested in the research space with regard to biogenic methane investing over €2m in various projects. At a national level, a significant research grant was awarded to a Teagasc coordinated project called Meth-Abate which is looking at novel technologies to reduce methane emissions.
Lastly, my Department is exploring the issue of carbon farming and the possibility of bringing an additional income stream into the sector. I am watching developments at the European Union (EU) level closely as they develop their regulatory framework in respect of carbon farming.
A whole-of-sector, whole-of-government approach will be needed to ensure the agriculture sector achieves its climate objectives. Farmers will need to be given consistent and clear advice on the changes required. Ireland is lucky to have an excellent advisory services network which is well placed to play an important role in the transition required.
As Minister and as a Government, we are committed to supporting our farm families in the time ahead.