The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, will today attend the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels, where there will be a strong focus on fertiliser supply chains ahead of the spring.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Minister McConalogue said:
"The agenda at today's meeting is very important for Irish farmers, with a number of topics of significant interest being discussed. In the case of fertilisers, I will emphasise the need for strategic autonomy in fertiliser production in Europe in the long-term, in order to provide affordable fertilisers for European farmers. We also need to maintain a level playing field across the European Union by avoiding interventions that may cause market distortion, and to establish an observatory that will provide better data on stocks of fertilisers.
Fertiliser prices are at the top of many farmers' minds, and we must therefore also continue to explore all options to address the spike in prices in the short-term.
For example, I have used the Temporary Crisis Framework to provide significant national funding to support farmers in producing additional crops and fodder. In addition, our CAP Strategic Plan will support farmers by helping them to adjust their farming practices, for example through greater use of multi-species swards, soil sampling and liming, through investment in low emissions slurry spreading, and through improvements in the use of organic fertiliser. I have also put a strong focus on knowledge transfer and innovation to guide farmers through the current crisis."
The agricultural aspects of the proposed Nature Restoration Regulation are also on today's agenda. The Minister said:
"I fully subscribe to the need to effectively manage and restore our natural habitats. At the same time, the proposed regulation gives rise to many challenges from the perspectives of agriculture, forestry and the marine. There are a number of issues which will require detailed consideration, and we will feed into the discussions on these issues as appropriate. However, at this juncture it is already clear that, given the scope and ambition of the proposal, it is unrealistic to expect that CAP funding, which is currently fully committed in line with Member States’ CAP Strategic Plans, could be the main funding instrument to deliver these extremely ambitious targets."
Ministers will also discuss the bio economy. In this regard the Minister commented:
"The time is now ripe for further progress in bioeconomy development. The Commission and the Member States should now assess what is required for scaling-up in order to embed bioeconomy in the mainstream, given its ever-increasing importance in the climate- and environment-proofing of the agri-food system. This will require a coherent approach across all Commission services to promote, support, and develop the bioeconomy, and to ensure that the bioeconomy is suitably integrated in all relevant policies."
Looking forward to the discussion on the implementation of the EU Forest Strategy, the Minister said:
"Ireland is preparing a new and hugely exciting forestry programme to start next year. This new strategy stresses the multiple functions of forests and the essential balance between the ecological, climate, economic and social functions of forests, ensuring equal attention for all of these dimensions of sustainability. This is a concrete action aimed at delivering on all of these objectives.”
I believe that there is a shared willingness on the part of the Commission and Member States to implement the EU Forest Strategy in an integrated, collaborative way. The Standing Committee on Forestry should play an enhanced role in advising the Commission on implementation, as stated in the November 2021 Council Conclusions."