April 26, 2021

Ireland announces strategy to be a global leader in sustainable food by 2030

Sustainable Agriculture in Ireland

Ireland is implementing a public consultation strategy to be a global leader in sustainable food systems by 2030.

New submissions on the draft Agri-Food Strategy to 2030 and the associated Environmental Report and Natura Impact Statement are invited until mid-June. The proposed strategy intends for agri-food to be profitable (economically and sustainable) with benefits for society and have a positive or neutral impact on the natural environment.

Targets in the strategy include the food system reaching climate-neutrality by 2050, with clear progress displayed by 2030. This target includes everything from emissions to biodiversity and air quality.

To work towards these targets agriculture must reduce nutrient losses to water by 50% by 2030, and at least 10% of farmland must be allocated for biodiversity across Ireland. Furthermore, afforestation must be increased and the sustainable production of biomass from forests doubled by 2035.

There are also targets for Ireland protecting 30% of marine areas and organic farming making over 7% of farmland in Ireland by 2030. There are also measures for per capita food waste to be reduced by 50% by 2030.

Other targets within the plan include a focus on improving farmer performance across several indicators and an increase in horticulture, organic and agroforestry production.

A separate environmental assessment includes key sustainability issues that Ireland is facing and which are relevant to the proposed Agri-Food Strategy. This includes:

-Unsuitable conditions for species in protected areas due to agriculture and fishing being unsustainable.
– A consistent decline in both species and habitats, including a decrease in protected areas.
-A growing threat to our environment outside of protected areas, including the continued climate challenge and increase in pest, diseases and invasive species.

The strategy recognises the potential risk to the reputation of Ireland and farmers as a food-producing nation with strong environmental credentials. Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue explained that the draft strategy has a core focus on sustainability, environmental, social and economic factors within its measures.

The Minister of State Senator Pippa Hackett explains that reaching climate neutrality by 2050 will be a challenge, and will require changes in the way our land is used and farmed, but it will create benefits as well. To maximise these gains, Hackett states that everyone needs to contribute and work together.

The strategy forms a series of practical actions for the agricultural industry to become climate neutral by 2050, but also focuses on restoration and enhancing our biodiversity, improving water quality and generating diverse forests.

The Minister of State Martin Heydon explains that the draft strategy intends to build on the positive international reputation of Ireland as a key supplier of quality, safe and sustainable-produced food and drinks.

The Irish Government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 51% by 2030 and reaching climate neutrality by 2050, taking into consideration the important role agriculture will play in reaching these targets.