Agriculture; Food and the Marine | Carbon reduction in agri-food sector
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the extent to which he hopes to mitigate carbon reduction requirements by way of enhanced sequestration thereby ensuring the viability of the agri-food sector while at the same time meeting carbon reduction targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
It is clear that we must acknowledge the role of removals within the landscape and the important role farmers can play in terms of enhancing these removals. My Department is aware of the significant contribution that on-farm carbon sequestration, particularly through our soils, trees and hedgerows, can make in the continued viability and sustainability of the agri-food sector.
The most recent proposals from the European Commission on developing a certification framework for carbon removals is key in this regard and it is important that activity at national level keeps in line with and is complimentary with European activity.
Recent initiatives supported through funding from my Department will provide much needed data on the emission profile of our farms and will inform policy decisions in this area to better support farmers in their efforts to sequester, store and protect carbon through better management decisions.
In particular, the establishment of the National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory with supporting technology for the measurement of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from a range of different soil and farm types will place Ireland at the forefront of EU carbon sequestration research. This action is also supported through the roll out of a soil sampling scheme, measuring soil carbon across more than 7500 farms in its pilot phase.
In addition supported by my Department, Teagasc in co-operation with the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and Bord Bia is building a new digital platform to facilitate a robust whole farm sustainability assessment and “counting” of carbon emissions and removals. The Sustainability Digital Platform is a major digital resource to allow farmers ‘count’ carbon emissions and sequestration on their farm, and its decision support capability allows advisors work with farmers to develop tailored sustainability plans and track progress.
This platform will support the new Signpost Advisory Programme and allow each farmer, and their advisor, to understand their current emissions and removals profiles. The real time data analysis will help plan, explore opportunities and prioritise actions to reduce emissions and enhance removals.
As you will appreciate, the knowledge gained from research and technological infrastructure establishment activities pursued through my Department and the recently announced Digital Sustainability Platform will not only demonstrate the continued viability of our agri-food sector but it will also allow for the refinement of our reporting to the National Inventory further emphasising the sustainability of the agricultural sector.
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