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Agriculture; Food and the Marine | Agriculture production and emission reductions policy

To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the extent to which he continues to liaise with the energy and climate reduction sectors to ensure that both agriculture production and climate measures such as emission reductions are balanced in such a way as to ensure the effectiveness and viability of both; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

As the Deputy may be aware, the agriculture sector was assigned a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030 based on a 2018 baseline of 23MT CO2 eq.

My focus as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine is overseeing the delivery of this emissions abatement, to ensure the reductions are reflected in the agricultural greenhouse gas inventory. Agriculture will also contribute to decarbonisation of the energy system through biomass, solar and the development of an anaerobic digestion (AD) industry and the production of biomethane. I am very keen to support the development of an AD industry as it could provide a valuable income stream for farmers.

The Climate Action Plan 2021 set out the core and additional measures the sector will pursue to live within its assigned carbon budgets. Earlier this year, I established two Food Vision groups – a dairy group and a beef and sheep group.

The final report from the dairy group is imminent, with the beef and sheep group to conclude its work in the coming months. The reports will contain a series of recommendations to reduce agricultural greenhouse gases, building on the Climate Action Plan 2021 core and further measures.

The challenge now is to have these measures taken up at farm level, this process is well underway. The Teagasc Signpost farm programme will play a key role in this objective. One of the key measures will be a reduction in chemical nitrogen use, and a change in the type of chemical nitrogen applied. Significant progress has been made in 2022 and this will be positively reflected in the 2022 inventory when published next year.

By implementing all measures on farm, by developing new methane reducing feed additives, and by developing diversification options for farmers, I am confident the sector will achieve its climate objectives.

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