The Minister of State with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity Pippa Hackett has announced an additional allocation of €5m for investment in new biodiversity initiatives.
Referring to the area of on-farm biodiversity as one which she considers particularly urgent and important, Hackett said: “Encouraging biodiversity on our farms to reach the next level is really important.
“These will build on the 24 new on-farm biodiversity projects which we funded this year.
We will have to change how we do things
“And we are also putting aside a further €500,000 to ensure the information and expertise farmers need is available to them so they can protect and increase on-farm biodiversity,” she said
Minister Hackett acknowledged the challenges facing farmers at this time of climate and biodiversity crisis she said: “We will have to change how we do things, but farmers know that, and from what I have seen, they are up for the challenge.”
The Minister announced strong support for forestry with the allocation of over €100m for 2022. She said she would use the money to push on with the programme of reform and delivery of a new forestry strategy, under Project Woodland.
“While planting more trees is at the centre of our climate strategy, everyone knows forestry is an area in which there have been difficulties.
“It’s also a clear programme for Government commitment to better integrate the next CAP with our tree-planting policies and I will be working with Minister McConologue before the end of the year on legislation which will make it more straightforward for us to incentivise small-scale planting of native trees by large numbers of farmers.”
Organic and horticulture
The Minister has also announced a sizeable increase in the allocations for the organic sector, which has now almost doubled since she has taken office.
“There’s a big increase in the allocation for organic sector, with the funding going from €18m to €23m, of which €21m will be provided for the organic farming scheme.
“This is an additional €5m in the scheme budget compared to last year and allows for the reopening of the scheme to new entrants in 2022.”
I also hope that the sector can benefit from significant additional investment from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve fund in 2022
The Minister referred to the horticulture allocation of €9m: “Things are challenging for the sector at the moment.
“The basic horticulture budget retains the 50% increase secured last year, I also hope that the sector can benefit from significant additional investment from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve fund in 2022.
“I will also be ensuring that the money is there to support small growers as well as to finance whatever improvements are suggested by KPMG, which is to report to me early next year on opportunities for the sector,” she said.
Smaller producers and future generations
Minister Hackett has said the Department will provide support to local food systems to develop routes to market for small food producers, and to encourage young people and communities to learn how to grow food.
“We are providing €500,000 to support and communicate initiatives on these themes.
“It’s an area in which there are many actors and agencies doing great work, but it’s not necessarily easy for the small producer to navigate it,” she acknowledged.
Our farmers are telling us they understand the climate and carbon crisis
The Department has announced an extra €15m of funding, allocated to support the soil sampling programme.
“This increase is a direct result of the huge demand from farmers to avail of the scheme.
“Our farmers are telling us they understand the climate and carbon crisis,” she insisted.
Minister Hackett has welcomed Budget 2022, saying that it was a fair, climate and biodiversity friendly, and also a budget which would protect farm families, farm profitability and farm safety and sustainability.