The policy pendulum for agriculture has firmly swung away from productivity towards sustainability.
The 2030 targets for a 25% reduction in emissions by the sector are well known by all, but the road to actually getting there is still unclear.
Fundamentally, there is a lot of policy and not a huge amount of action so far.
Further, in announcing policies and targets, there needs to be a much better understanding of where we are in Ireland with land use and what the proposed land use changes will mean.
This year’s Irish Farmers Journal/KPMG Agribusiness report looks at these issues from the ground up – literally. In recent months, a new land-use map of Ireland was published and it is by far the most detailed report on what is happening on the surface of the country.
There are some surprising results – Ireland’s grass cover is much lower than previously reported, while our forestry cover is much higher.
We use this map as the starting point of our report and then build on that data aided by expert analysis from KPMG - who we are delighted to partner with for an 11th year – to show what challenges lie ahead for the agriculture sector on this island.
We also highlight the emergence of new land-hungry enterprises which have come to the fore following the recent spike in energy prices. Both solar and anaerobic digesters will place further demands on Ireland’s useful land area.
This trade-off between productivity and sustainability – in all its forms – is going to be the story of Ireland’s land use over the next decade. Our hope is that this report will give a sound foundation on which to have those discussions.