So we know the sectoral targets for carbon emissions, although they haven’t been officially confirmed by Government yet.

And we now know the shape of Ireland’s CAP plan for both direct payments and support scheme, through to 2027. Will the extra funding be enough to help farming adjust to the new straitjacket of a 21% to 30% reduction in carbon? Only time will tell.

One thing we should understand is that there is little point in looking to Brussels for leadership or guidance, judging by last week’s Farm to Fork conference.

A two-day event, was addressed by 58 speakers, including three European Commissioners. No one spoke for more than six or seven minutes.

It’s not enough time to develop any point with any depth. We essentially got 58 introductory speeches.

If you wanted to hear what needed to be done, and why, there was plenty of that. But we all know what needs to be done, and we all know why. What we need to know is how.

On that score, there was little illumination.

Instead, we got generalities and platitudes. For instance, the spokesperson for the pesticide industry called for a speeding up of approvals for new chemistry, adding that pesticide products should not be taken off the market until new chemistry has been found and approved.

And that was pretty much that. Time up, next please.

Weren’t there questions, I hear you ask? Yes, anyone watching could send a question in online. But any speaker I saw was only asked one question, and usually asked by the moderator to keep their answers to 60 seconds.

Organic farming

We heard the Commission is confident that 25% of land will be in organic farming by 2030, a key Farm To Fork strategy. Many countries are there already, we were told. But no specifics, no examination of why some countries have a significant organic sector and others (Ireland included) don’t.


Most sessions of the Oireachtas agriculture committee see invited speakers allowed more time, make more detailed presentations, and then undergo much more rigorous questioning.

Deep ploughing rather than min-till. But if min-till farming is held to be low-carbon, the volume of hot air generated from the broad but shallow Farm to Fork conference would heat a small hospital for the winter.

It’s not good enough.