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Minister of State Doyle addresses BioFarm 2019

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle T.D today addressed the “BioFarm 2019 - Ireland’s Biological Farming Conference” in Portlaoise, which is focusing on the capabilities of agriculture to combat climate change.

Minister Doyle highlighted the options available to farmers in this respect through his Department’s Organic Farming Scheme and Agro-Forestry Scheme. Noting that the many benefits of agro-forestry discussed at the Conference today, Minister Doyle pointed out the substantial grants available of €6,220 per hectare under the Agro-Forestry Scheme together with an annual premium of up to €660 per hectare. He added that the agro-forestry system “.. is ideally suited to farmers who are interested in forestry but who also wish to keep their land in agricultural production and I therefore believe that it merits serious consideration.”

Addressing the issue of climate change the Minister noted that “Ireland’s food producers and farmers have a remarkable reputation internationally in terms of the sustainability of the food and drink we produce”. Acknowledging that further action is needed in adapting to the consequences of climate change, reducing vulnerability and achieving sustainable development, he pointed out that his Department has recently published a first Agriculture, Forest and Seafood Climate Change Sectoral Adaptation Plan to help deliver on these objectives.

He concluded by saying that “There are opportunities out there, the market is demanding a more sustainable product and our grass-based livestock system is one of the best, but we know we can, and must, do better”.

The Conference, which is a two-day event, continues on Wednesday 6 November. 

Note for Editor

Biofarm 2019

The Conference which is organised by the National Organic Training Skillnet (NOTS) is taking place over two days in Portlaoise, Co. Laois – 5th to 6 November 2019.  The Conference brings together international experts in climate change mitigation, soil specialists and agro- forestry experts. Together with farmers, growers, researchers and advisors they will be discussing how farms can be used to sequester carbon.

Agro-forestry

Agroforestry is a land use system in which trees are grown in combination with agriculture on the same land. The system gives land owners the flexibility to graze and even cut silage and hay while growing trees for timber in the same field. With agroforestry it is possible to grow quality timber with little or no impact on existing agricultural production. This system is ideally suited to farmers who are interested in forestry but who also want to avoid taking their land out of agricultural production. An Agro-forestry option is available to landowners under the Department’s Afforestation Scheme in the current Forestry Programme.

Grassland and Carbon sequestration

From a climate change perspective grassland soils have the ability to sequester atmospheric CO2, thus potentially contributing to climate change mitigation. Grassland in Ireland comprises 4 million hectares, or 90% of agricultural area.

Organic Farming

The principles and methods employed in organic farming promote practices that co-exist with natural systems and help protect and enhance the environment.  From an operational perspective, it concentrates on the nourishment of the soil through the use of natural inputs, avoids the requirement for herbicides, fungicides and insecticides by using crop rotations, maximises access to the outdoors using more appropriate breeds of animal, including traditional breeds, provides liberal space when indoors and excludes the use of GMO’s.

 

ENDS

Date Released: 05 November 2019