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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Niall Hurson

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue insists farming must ‘stretch’ itself ahead of sectoral target meeting

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue has said farming must stretch itself when it comes to achieving its sectoral targets ahead of a meeting with Climate Minister Eamon Ryan on Wednesday.

Speaking with the Farming Independent at the Energy and Agriculture show in Gurteen, Co Tipperary, on Tuesday, Mr McConalogue said the target must be appropriate to the sector.

“We don’t have time not to do the maximum that we possibly can. The key engagement is to set a target for agriculture that will deliver and will be achievable,” he said.

“The appropriate balance is backing farm families to produce food because that’s our core job and it’s really important. We do that better in this country than anywhere else in the world.

“We can do it even better and we can do it with an even lower emissions profile. It’s important now to set a target in which we can define a pathway we can reach, and as the decade continues we can take any new opportunities and technologies to reduce emissions.”

Mr Ryan was also present at the show and told attendees that he was in discussion with Mr McConalogue around the use of anaerobic digesters to help Ireland move towards energy independence.

In the past, the Green Party advised caution when considering this system. The Farming Independent asked the Mr Ryan why his stance had now changed.

“One of the reasons anaerobic digestion is an attractive route now is because the price of gas is eight times higher than it was for the past 20 years,” he said.

“The security aspect of it has changed, we need to stop relying on imported fossil fuels where we can produce it locally, which makes sense. The world has changed in the last six months.”

Mr Ryan insisted that farmers will be paid for carbon sequestered and for all actions which lead to positive environmental outcomes.

“Government has agreed that what we do will have to be good for Irish family farming. We’re not going to undermine that real strength in rural Ireland which that farming system supports,” he continued.

“If we’re going to get farmers to do what’s needed to restore our natural system then we have to pay. They have the skills, knowledge and the wherewithal to make it happen.

“Land use is a big part of our emissions and the science there is changing in terms of showing our land use rather than being a sink is a source of emissions.

“Understanding the science of that will be a huge challenge. The land use review will be critical, in the next 16-18 months it will give us a lot of the answers. It will impact a lot of farmers' land use in its own right.”

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