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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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NDP to support forestry and AD projects

Minister McConalogue believes the recently published National Development Plan allows Ireland to map out the development of the agri-food sector as the island emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic and continues to deal with challenges Brexit poses.

He was one of three ministers at the DAFM, who welcomed the revised plan’s publication.

The revised NDP will set the department’s new five-year rolling capital allocations, supporting economic, social and environmental development.

National Development Plan

The strategic investment priorities for the DAFM are:

Rural Development Programme and On-Farm Investment

Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020 has been extended to 2022 and will provide €1.5bn of support to rural communities in Ireland over its remaining lifetime.

McConalogue said Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan (CSP) for 2023-2027 will:

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  • Firstly, underpin the sustainable development of Ireland’s farming and food sector;
  • Support viable farm incomes and enhancing competitiveness;
  • Strengthen the socio-economic fabric of rural areas;
  • Lastly, contribute to the achievement of environmental and climate objectives at national and EU levels.

“I expect that the On-farm Capital Investment Scheme under Ireland’s 2023-2027 CSP will help farmers looking to invest in capital projects.”

He said investment will increase environmental efficiency in the sector through the adoption of new technologies will:

  • Firstly, support young farmers in accessing finance. Enable them to be in a better position to invest in and develop their farm enterprise;
  • Also, improve animal health and welfare and farm safety.

In a statement, the DAFM said forestry is a vital resource for the Irish economy. It points to their economic, social and recreational roles.

In addition, the statement added, Ireland’s forests play an essential role in helping with climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration in forests and providing renewable fuels and raw materials.

The Climate Action Plan 2019 outlines 34 high-level actions with associated sub-measures specifically for the forest sector. It includes a target of an average of 8,000 ha of afforestation per year.

The targets, set out in the Climate Action Plan, are aligned with the level of ambition for afforestation in the current Forestry Programme 2014-2020.

Minister of State for with responsibility for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett said:

“The Forestry Programme 2014-2020 is 100% exchequer funded and received approval to be extended to the end of 2022 by the European Commission, in accordance with state aid transition requirements.”

She said the programme represents state investment in the forestry sector of some €482m over its lifetime.

“This National Development Plan will ensure a publicly funded capital programme for afforestation beyond the current Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020, and I welcome that.

She said this will help Ireland achieve the afforestation targets in the Climate Action Plan.

Access to finance

Minister of State with special responsibility for Research and Development, Farm Safety and New Market Development Martin Heydon added:

“Greater innovation both inside and outside the farm gate to enhance both economic and environmental efficiency will be central to achieving the ambition of Food Vision 2030.”

The minister said the agri-food sector would require appropriate access to finance to fulfil these goals.

“Government will continue to monitor the sector’s access to finance and consult with stakeholders on their requirements in this regard.”

Lab network and AD projects

Furthermore, the department will consider utilising some of its NDP funding to redevelop the regional laboratory network and introduce pilot Anaerobic Digester projects.

Both potential projects are at “very early stages” of planning, and it has yet to assign definitive costs or timelines.

Minister McConalogue concluded:

“The goals are ambitious, and investment is required to fulfil this ambition. “

“Public capital investments in the agri-food sector will seek to support the sustainable development of the sector in accordance with the ambition in the Food Vision 2030.”

“These objectives will be aided by the EU Common Agricultural operating after 2020, which are expected to focus on these sectors in a way that delivers enhanced economic, environmental and social sustainability, with a particular emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation actions.”

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