Green Party Senator and Minister of State with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett, today welcomed the 2021 budget, saying it includes many important measures which will stimulate nature-friendly farming practices, by providing financial incentives and training to support farmers to work with nature, enhance their land, diversify their incomes, and tackle the climate and biodiversity emergencies.
“As a farmer myself, this is a proud day for me as I announce a number of measures to support the horticulture, organic and forestry sectors, to pilot a range of new results-based environmental schemes using money ring-fenced from the carbon tax, to promote animal welfare, and to initiate important research in a number of areas.”
Addressing measures to promote climate and biodiversity action, she said:
“I am delighted to have secured €23m of the ring-fenced carbon budget, topped up with an additional €56m, to pilot a range of new results-based environmental schemes to include habitat creation and the rewetting of peat soils, as well as providing for biodiversity training for farmers. These will help inform the development of a new flagship environmental scheme as part of the next Rural Development Programme (RDP) under the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), likely to start in 2023. Results-based programmes are known internationally to be far more effective, and this is a key achievement for the Greens.”
Minister Hackett announced significantly increased support for the organic and horticulture sectors, which will play a key role in Ireland’s transition towards a low greenhouse gas country.
“A 33% increase in the budget for the Organic Farming Scheme, to nearly €16m, will address the growing demand from both farmers and consumers for this type of production. In the Programme for Government, the Green Party negotiated a commitment to increase Ireland’s share of organic land to the EU average (around 7.5% of agricultural land) by 2025, and this represents a key step on that journey. Organic farming is a model that works closely with nature, and has been shown to have benefits for carbon reduction, biodiversity, and water quality. And as an organic farmer myself, I have seen how it can deliver greater profit margins for farmers.
“In horticulture, a 50% budget increase (to €9m) will help Irish growers to capitalise upon the growing trend towards plant-based diets. We are currently net importers of a range of fruit and vegetables – apples, carrots, onions, and even the humble spud. We can and should grow more of these staple foods here, and I hope this increase in support will go a long way to increasing our own domestic supply.”
Strong support is also provided for forestry, the Minister said:
“With work soon to begin on developing the new Forestry Programme, the allocation of over €100m will be our source for incentives for farmers and foresters to move towards a closer-to-nature model focused on native broadleaves, continuous cover and “the right tree in the right place”. The Green Party manifesto and the Programme for Government promised to promote close to nature, continuous cover forestry systems, creating permanent biodiverse forests containing trees of all ages, and I look forward to using some of this funding to support this transition.”
Minister Hackett also spoke about animal welfare:
“Animal welfare is an important aspect for myself and for all Green Party representatives and members. So I was very glad to secure a 36% increase in my Department’s allocation to support animal welfare. This funding will be used to deliver increased resources for animal welfare organisations, to develop additional urban horse welfare projects, and to develop a programme to promote responsible pet ownership. I will continue to advocate for further animal welfare measures within Government.”
Research is a major feature of Budget 2021’s agriculture allocation, with significant projects initiated in a number of areas, Minister Hackett stated:
“Research is hugely important in this budget. €10m is provided for a national soil sampling study. This is the starting point for a National Soil Strategy to improve soil health: biodiversity at its most fundamental level. €5m will fund a farm biodiversity study, allowing us to get a base-line understanding of the levels of biodiversity on Irish farms, and what must be done to conserve and regenerate biodiversity on Irish farms. The National Land Use Plan will take an important step forward with the allocation of €250,000 for a review of land use nationally. These are all key elements of the Green Party manifesto, and the commitments we fought so hard for in the Programme for Government.”
In relation to the Marine, Minister Hackett stated:
“A €4m increase in the capital allocation to the Marine Institute will fund the ongoing construction of Ireland’s new marine research vessel, which will be a sister ship to the State’s largest research ship, the 65-metre Celtic Explorer. The work undertaken by these vessels is essential for coastal and offshore research, environmental monitoring, seabed mapping, oceanographic work, weather buoy maintenance, and student training.”
In conclusion, Minister Hackett stated:
“I am looking forward to seeing these measures implemented, and these funds spent on projects and schemes which will not only deliver for farmer incomes, but for farmer satisfaction, and, of course, for our ever-challenged environment. I look forward to engaging with farmers, with NGOs, with environmentalists, and with communities, as we design a better, nature-friendly future for farming.”
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