Dept of Agriculture Food Wise 2025

Sustainability

Ireland’s road to a low carbon economy includes an approach to carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land-use sector, including forestry, which does not compromise the capacity for sustainable food production.

Food Wise states that “Environmental sustainability and economic sustainability are equal and complementary – one cannot be achieved at the expense of the other”. Food Wise enthusiastically supports technology and processes that result in a more efficient use of resources.

A Food Wise 2025 Environmental Sustainability Subgroup has been established, to focus specifically on monitoring and driving the sustainability recommendations in the Food Wise Implementation Plan. This Committee reports to the HLIC.

The Department is in the process of preparing its Sectoral Adaptation Plans for the agriculture, forest and marine sectors. This will feed into the first National Adaptation Plan.

“Environmental sustainability and economic sustainability are equal and complementary – one cannot be achieved at the expense of the other”

DAFM’s Rural Development Programme (RDP)

The main vehicle for driving sustainable agricultural production in Ireland is the Rural Development Programme. The RDP covers the period to 2020 and is strongly targeted towards environmental benefits including:

  • The agri environmental scheme (GLAS) which includes specific measures to help mitigate the effects of climate change and improve biodiversity.
  • Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) which includes grant aid for low emission slurry spreading equipment (LESS), minimum tillage and rainwater harvesting.
  • The Beef Data and Genomics Programme which will improve the economic and environmental sustainability of beef production.
  • Knowledge Transfer programmes which will bring the latest innovative sustainability research and practices direct to farmers.

The RDP is supplemented by the following other actions on sustainability:

  • Agricultural Catchments Programme.
  • Pasture Profit Index which compares the economic benefits of various grassland production systems.
  • Animal health improvements which contribute to reducing carbon emissions per unit of output produced.

Origin Green

  • Origin Green makes Ireland the first country in the world to introduce a sustainability programme for its entire food and drink industry. Predicated as Ireland’s world class animal/plant health, animal welfare and food safety standards, Origin Green involves a process of continuous improvement – inspecting, advising, improving and setting targets. The reporting tools used are designed to be practical and easily understood by farmers and food companies. Independent verification and measurement of our sustainability credentials has been crucial to the success of Origin Green. Strong stakeholder involvement and feedback is key to the success of the Origin Green initiative, both at farm and at processing level:
  • At food industry level, companies develop and commit to clear targets in key areas of sustainability, including raw material sourcing, manufacturing processes and social sustainability.
  • This is a national sustainability programme: by June 2016, 508 companies, accounting for almost 95% of food and drink exports, had signed up to Origin Green:
    • 169 companies, representing over 85% of food and drink exports, were verified members;
    • 155 companies had submitted their sustainability plans; and
    • A further 184 companies had registered to start the process.
  • At farm level, farms are audited on a variety of measures, including animal health and welfare, traceability, water and feed, and pasture management. This audit includes carbon foot-printing using the Carbon Navigator tool, developed by Bord Bia and Teagasc, which enables farmers to focus on improving both economic and environmental efficiency. 800 farms are audited per week and Bord Bia has completed almost 100,000 audits since the programme launched in 2012. This audit process is independently verified. Independent verification and measurement of our sustainability credentials has been crucial to the success of Origin Green.

Expo Milan 2015

Ireland was one of 145 countries showcasing on the Expo theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” which linked technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity with global food and diet issues. It allowed Ireland to showcase our commitment to sustainable food production, exemplified by Origin Green, a first in terms of a national sustainability initiative.

The exhibition featured Origin Green and The Wild Atlantic Way. Ireland Pavilion attracted over 2.5 million visitors to Expo from May to October 2015 including Bono. The Department co-hosted an event with Italy in support of World Food Programme (WFP). The event led to Ireland doubling our annual contribution of untied aid to WFP to €20 million per annum for the next three years.

Global Sustainability Forum

Bord Bia hosted the Global Sustainability Forum in association with the World Wildlife Fund and SAI Platform last November, with a large and influential international audience, and launched the first Origin Green Sustainability report.

Seafood-specific Origin Green

Bord Bia have collaborated with BIM to host a series of seafood-specific Origin Green planning workshops. These practical workshops are an important first step in the development of individual Origin Green sustainability plans and they have set many companies on the path to full membership of the programme.

During the workshops, participants are guided on how to develop their Sustainability Charter with guidance from Bord Bia and BIM’s Green Seafood Business Programme team.

DAFM Water Forum

DAFM hosted a Water Forum in October, bringing together all of the Department and agency staff working on research, analysis and schemes which impact on water safety and quality. Following on from this successful forum, a DAFM Water Network was set up with representatives from the Department and the relevant agencies whose purpose is to provide strategic direction and leadership to strengthen the parallel delivery of good water quality and safe sustainable food production.