- Says Protecting Farm Families and Protecting Nature at its core
- Announces significant supports for forestry, organics and horticulture
- Signals intention to continue prioritising on-farm biodiversity
The Minister of State with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett today welcomed Budget 2022, saying that it was a fair, climate and biodiversity friendly, and also a budget which would protect farm families, farm profitability, and farm safety and sustainability.
Addressing the challenges facing famers at this time of climate and biodiversity crisis she said: ‘The levels of on-farm innovation and creativity which I have seen in my time in this role are very reassuring. We will have to change how we do things, but farmers know that, and from what I have seen, they are up for the challenge. That is why I am pleased to be able to deliver good news about supports for those involved in forestry, organics, horticulture, on farm biodiversity and local food systems and I am happy that this budget will support all farmers as we all transition towards the new CAP’.
Announcing strong support for Forestry with the allocation of over €100m for 2022 the Minister said: “While planting more trees is at the centre of our climate strategy, everyone knows forestry is an area in which there have been difficulties. I am happy, however, to have secured such strong funding, and I look forward to using much of the money to push on with the programme of reform and delivery of a new forest strategy which is happening under Project Woodland. We need to develop a ‘Close to Nature’ model of forestry which also recognises the significant downstream benefits of forestry for the rural economy and the increasing role which timber can play as a climate friendly construction material. It’s also a clear Programme for Government commitment to better integrate the next CAP with our tree-planting policies and I will be working with Minister McConologue, before the end of the year, on legislation which will make it more straightforward for us to incentivise small scale planting of native trees by large numbers of farmers’
The Minister also announced a sizeable increase in the allocations for the Organic sector, saying “There’s a big increase in the allocation for organic sector, with the funding going from €18 to €23 million, of which €21m will be provided for the organic farming scheme. This is an additional €5m in the scheme budget compared to last year and allows for the reopening of the scheme to new entrants in 2022. Overall, this more than doubles the amount allocated to organics since I’ve come into office. It demonstrates our commitment to expanding the sector and allows many more farmers to make the transition to organic farming. I am determined to work with all stakeholders and advisory services to ensure all farmers are fully aware of the opportunities which going organic can provide. And I intend to publish, very shortly, a targeted ‘Action Plan for Organics’, which will complement the National Organic Strategy 2019-2025.”
The Minister referred to the Horticulture allocation of €9million. “Things are challenging for the sector at the moment. I want to acknowledge that, and while the basic Horticulture budget retains the 50% increase secured last year, I also hope that the sector can benefit from significant additional investment from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve fund in 2022. I am fully supportive of this and I expect further details of how we can support seed potato producers, mushroom growers, and a domestic fruit and veg promotion campaign will be announced in due course. I will also be ensuring that the money is there to support small growers as well as to finance whatever improvements are suggested by KPMG, which is to report to me early next year on opportunities for the sector.“
Referring to the area of on-farm biodiversity as one which she considers particularly urgent and important, the Minister said: “Encouraging Biodiversity on our farms to reach the next level is really important. So I am delighted to announce an additional allocation of €5million for investment in new biodiversity initiatives by my Department next year. These will build on the 24 new on-farm biodiversity projects which we funded this year. And we are also putting aside a further €500,000 to ensure the information and expertise farmers need is available to them so they can protect and increase on-farm biodiversity.
Minister Hackett also spoke about local food systems: “The Programme for Government includes commitments to support local food systems, to develop routes to market for small food producers, and to encourage young people and communities to learn how to grow food. In response to those commitments, we are providing €500,000 to support and communicate initiatives on these themes. It’s an area in which there are many actors and agencies doing great work, but it’s not necessarily easy for the small producer to navigate it. This funding will help with that.“
Minister Hackett closed by referring to animal welfare and also to the extra allocation made to support the soil sampling programme: “I am pleased to acknowledge the following through on the commitment in the PfG to double funding for animal welfare bodies. I think we all appreciate the importance of their work. And I also want to commend the response by farmers which has led to the soil sampling initiative, announced last year, receiving a further €15 million euro in this year’s budget. This increase is a direct result of the huge demand from farmers to avail of the scheme. I want to thank them for applying for it and for thereby nudging us to up our sampling capacity. Doing so is really important, but equally important is the signal their response sends. Our farmers are telling us they understand the climate and carbon crisis. They want to arm themselves with the information they need to play their part in its reduction. I want them to know that we are with them in that.”