The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Pippa Hackett, has said that progress has been made in tackling the crisis in the forestry sector.
As she marked her first calendar year in the role of Minister for Land Use and Biodiversity, the Green Party Senator acknowledged that issues still remain with forestry licencing.
“This year, we have issued over 4,000 [licences], so there has been great improvements and Project Woodland, which I launched in February, is bringing everyone together to address the bigger picture too.
“Indeed in 2022, we will be conducting national conversations about what we, as a nation, really want from our trees and I believe they will be hugely worthwhile,” Minister Hackett said.
Hackett on CAP
The minister said that 2021 had been “a very productive and busy year” with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plan consuming a lot of time and effort on behalf of “officials, farmers and all other stakeholders”.
The strategic plan was given Cabinet approval on December 21, before being submitted to the European Commission.
Further detailed engagement will take place with the commission in the first half of 2022, and the approval process is likely to last between six and nine months, with the new CAP coming into effect on January 1, 2023.
“I am happy that the plan as now put together will deliver for farmers, their families and their incomes, while also protecting our soil, water, habitats and climate,” Hackett said.
The Programme for Government has committed to increasing the amount of land under organic farming to 7.5%.
The minister said that €256 million secured in the new CAP is sufficient to help government to deliver on this “huge” ambition.
“We have also established a stand-along division within the department to deal solely with organics. I believe that will help. Given the enthusiasm, both domestically and internationally, for organic produce, I believe we will drive the sector forward,” Hackett added.
Minister Hackett also said she was “proud to see actions on soil improvement” this year, including the promotion of clover and multi-species swards.
“To some extent, yes it is going back to the old way, but I think more and more of us are realising that if we want a decent future for our farms, for our land, and indeed for our children, we need, not to dismiss the wisdom of the past, but to learn from it,” the minister concluded.