Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said that there is a decade of change ahead for the agricultural sector.

Speaking at the Tullamore Show on Sunday, he said reaching the 25% carbon emissions reduction target will be challenging but it is an achievable ambition for the sector.

“My overarching ambition was twofold; to ensure that we keep farmers farming now and into the future for the next generation while working hard to reduce emissions from the sector.

“It will be a decade of change for the sector, but the bedrock will continue to be high-quality dairy, beef and sheep proteins, as well as our tillage crops, for the next 10, 20 and 30 years plus.

“We set ourselves an ambitious target for the next decade, but I do believe it is one we will achieve,” he said.

He added that the setting of the target isn’t the end or beginning of the journey, as farmers and the sector have been on a pathway to reduce emissions for many years.

No forced policy

“There is no measure or policy that will be forced upon farm families and as I’ve always done since I was appointed, I will engage meaningfully with farmers and their representatives.

“I think it’s fair to say that there will be change to the methods of farming over the next decade, especially in the area of increased use of energy generation.

“There is a very clear recognition of the very key role agriculture can and will play in decarbonisation our energy system. As well as making rapid developments in technologies, there will be significant opportunities like anaerobic digestion, solar and forestry, which will provide opportunities for farmers who wish to consider additional income sources,” he said.

He said his priority now is to ensure that the correct policy framework for the reduction in emissions is put in place and to work with farm representatives in doing that.

At the end of the decade, the power used to run the Tullamore Show could be from electricity generated on Irish farms and that is a prospect that should excite us all, the minister said.

He added that it is important that “we as a farming and agri sector remain united and together over the next decade”.

“Divisions between us will not serve any purpose, we are all farmers and farm families. We must continue to be a single force to meet our many challenges over the time ahead.”

Next year’s show

Speaking at the official opening of the show, Joe Molloy, Tullamore Show committee chair, said it was great for everyone to be back together at the show following a three-year absence due to COVID-19.

He also confirmed that next year’s Tullamore Show will take place on 13 August.