Knowledge important to secure a sustainable agri-food future – McGuinness

In order to secure a sustainable future for the agri-food sector, a knowledge-driven, highly efficient and environmentally-conscious approach to farming is required, according to MEP Mairead McGuinness.

Speaking at a recent Teagasc conference in Dundalk Institute of Technology, the Fine Gael MEP said that sustainable intensification, or producing more from less while doing less harm to the environment, represents an achievable challenge for the EU.

“Agriculture and food production is regarded as a key sector for the future both in terms of its food production capacity, potential for growth and job creation and its pivotal role in regional development and environmental delivery.

“Future emphasis has to be on finding ways to radically improve the resource efficiency of European agriculture while meeting European citizens’ ambitions for high standards of biodiversity, climate, soil, water and cultural landscape protection,” she said.

McGuinness also said that an input which should be intensified everywhere is knowledge per hectare. She said that the difficulty is that the marketplace does not reward farmers for their double role of producing food and conserving the environment.

“Farm incomes will be crucial in encouraging output, investment and a sense of opportunity in future at farm level. Food supply chain issues also need to resolved and research and innovation encouraged.”

McGuinness said that committed farmers are a must to transfer the new knowledge into actions and that young brains that are open to new ideas and unimpeded by the ways of the past are a key component.