In a statement this afternoon (Thursday, February 25), the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said it hopes that the Environmental Pillar will “reconsider” its decision to resign from the Agri-Food strategy committee.

This morning, the pillar, which is a national coalition of 32 environmental groups such as An Taisce, the Irish Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Earth, wrote a letter to Taoiseach Micheál Martin saying that it was resigning from the stakeholder committee of the Agri-Food 2030 strategy.

The strategy is yet to be published, but the final draft was circulated to the committee members this month, ahead of public consultation.

Also Read: Environmental NGOs resign from Agri-Food Strategy 2030 stakeholder committee

The strategy, being developed by the department with the input of agri-food stakeholders, is set to replace the Food Wise 2025 strategy.

The department said this afternoon:

“As ministers, we want to express our regret at the decision of the Environmental Pillar to withdraw from the Agri-Food 2030 strategy discussions.

We sincerely hope the pillar will reconsider that decision and engage in the process, as we believe it has an important role to play in the development of this policy.

“Agri-Food 2030, under the chairmanship of Tom Arnold, will play a huge role in shaping the future direction of our sustainable agri-food sector. That is why it is crucial to have all stakeholders involved.

“We understand that the process is ongoing, and there is still time for further collaboration. We would urge all sides to recognise that and do all they can to remain engaged.”

‘We will continue to engage in the public consultation’

The letter written to the Taoiseach by Karen Ciesielski, coordinator of the Environmental Pillar, states that the strategy is “not something that myself or our members can stand over or support”.

“Its commitments are vague, and lack the bold concrete actions that would urgently shift agriculture away from its current predominantly livestock-based model.

It also enshrines Ag Climatise as the guidepost for achieving emissions reduction, which the Environmental Pillar and other experts said does not go far enough at the time of its publication.

“We of course will continue to engage in the public consultation process and in future dialogue with the department regarding agriculture and food policy, and remain open to doing so.”