Future income sources on farms may not be the same as those of today, the draft agri-food strategy to 2030 has said.

Instead, it said, they could range from the market to payment for carbon sequestration and storage, microgeneration of energy, and delivery of a variety of ecosystem services.

“Farmers can bolster their financial and economic sustainability by focusing on efficiencies; embracing new, diversified systems of agriculture; meeting standards required for greater premiumisation that can offer higher market returns; and being rewarded for the delivery of a range of ecosystem services,” it said.

It said the protection of farm incomes and a just and inclusive transition are central to CAP environmental ambitions.

Under the heading of beef and sheep, the strategy cites an action to “increase targeting of farm income supports to environmental, economic and social sustainability”.

Extensive farming practices can contribute to economic sustainability and the social and cumulative economic value of small-scale beef and sheep farming should also be recognised and valued, it said.

It said other income streams could include organic farming, horticultural production, contract rearing of livestock and eco-tourism, among others.

“There is scope for additional income and employment opportunities arising from embedding the agri-food sector in the circular bioeconomy.

“These opportunities can come from the use of raw materials from grassland, crops, forestry and bio-marine systems to develop new bio-based value chains,” the strategy adds.

The strategy cites OECD/FAO projections which suggest that the long-term trend of stable or a slight reduction in the real price of food will continue over the next decade.

“The strategy takes the position that being able to demonstrate that Ireland has high standards of sustainability offers the best approach for seeking a price premium and/or enhanced market share,” it said.