Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has launched a public consultation on the Strategic Environmental Assessment of the draft Agri-Food Strategy 2030.

The draft was prepared by a committee of stakeholders, chaired by Tom Arnold, and facilitated by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Referring to the draft strategy, the minister said it “envisions Ireland as a world leader in sustainable food systems over the next decade”.

“It considers many of the issues that will be central to the development of the sector over the next ten years.

“These include a strong focus on improving primary producer viability and farm incomes; the importance of ensuring that our food offering continues to be high-quality, safe and healthy; the need to embrace innovation and improve competitiveness; and the requirement for an environmentally sustainable agri-food sector.

“The draft strategy’s mission-led food systems approach has sustainability in all its forms, environmental, social and economic, at its core.”

Public consultation on agri-food strategy

In parallel with the work of the committee, a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA) have been prepared independently to determine the likely significant effects on the environment of implementing the strategy.

As part of this environmental assessment process, an eight week public consultation will take place from April 19 until June 15, to seek views on the SEA, the AA and the draft strategy itself.

Minister of State Pippa Hackett added: “We need everyone to contribute, and to pull together, so I urge all parties to take part in this consultation.

“This strategy sets out practical actions for the sector to become climate neutral by 2050; but it is also about restoring and enhancing biodiversity; improving water quality; and developing diverse, multi-functional forests. We need to hear from everyone interested in these issues.”

This strategy will feed into the government process for establishing sectoral emissions ceilings under the Climate Action Bill.

When finalised this summer, the strategy will need to be consistent with the ambition set out for agriculture in the Programme for Government and the Climate Action Plan 2021, and the sectoral targets to be adopted under the Climate Bill.

The draft documents can be found here.

Key Messages and targets

Some of the key high-level targets for having a “a climate-neutral food system by 2050, with verifiable progress achieved by 2030” outlined in the strategy include:

  • Biogenic methane reduction of a minimum of 10% by 2030;
  • Reduction of ammonia emissions to below 107,500t by 2030;
  • Reduction of nutrient losses to water by 50% by 2030;
  • 10% of farmed area prioritised for biodiversity, spread across all farms throughout the country, by 2030;
  • Reach at least 7.5% of total utilised agricultural area under organic farming by 2030;
  • Halve per capita food waste by 2030;
  • Increase afforestation and double the sustainable production of biomass from forests by 2035;
  • Achieve 30% of marine protected areas by 2030.