The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett, has marked her first full calendar year in office.
In a statement, the minister highlighted her achievement in 2021 and outlined her priorities for 2022.
Looking back at year-end, the minister said: “It’s been a very productive and busy year.”
“The agreeing of a CAP Strategic Plan to submit to the EU by the end of it, has consumed a lot of time and effort on behalf of so many – officials, farmers and all other stakeholders too.”
“I am happy that the plan as now put together will deliver for farmers, their families and their incomes while also protecting our soil, water, habitats and climate.”
The minister also spoke about the forestry sector.
“Forestry has progressed. We still have issues with licensing. However, this year we have issued over 4,000, so there have been great improvements.”
“Project Woodland, which I launched in February, is bringing everyone together to address the bigger picture too. “
“Indeed, in 2022, we will be conducting national conversations about what we, as a nation, really want from our trees. I believe they will be hugely worthwhile.”
She pointed to the Programme for Government, which includes a commitment to increasing the amount of land under organic management to 7.5%.
“Our ambition for the organic sector is huge, but we have secured sufficient funding in the next CAP, €256m, to deliver on it.”
“We have also established a stand-alone division within the department to deal solely with organics. I believe that will help.”
“And given the enthusiasm, both domestically and internationally, for organic produce, I believe we will drive the sector forward.”
And Minister Hackett concluded: “Through the year, I also realised that my passion remains the soil.”
“It really is all about the soil. So, I was proud to see actions on soil improvement through clover and multi-species swards being both discussed and indeed supported.”
“To some extent, yes, it is going back to the old way. I think more, and more of us are realising that if we want a decent future for our farms, for our land, and indeed, for our children, we need, not dismiss the wisdom of the past, but to learn from it.”