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Ministers host National ‘Agriculture and Climate Change: Science in Action’ Conference

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Research Martin Heydon T.D., and Minister of State for Land Use Senator Pippa Hackett and will host a national conference entitled ‘Agriculture and Climate Change: Science into Action’ at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin today.

  • 500 delegates from across the agri-food sector come together to hear the latest science and policy developments relating to agriculture and climate change.
  • Announcement of €3.8 million in new research funding for collaborative projects on climate and agriculture, as well as upcoming announcement of €8.8 million of further research funding

The conference takes stock of the relationship between agriculture and climate change as the 500 delegates in attendance hear updates on the latest climate policy developments.

Held during Science Week 2023, the conference has a very strong scientific emphasis with a range of national and international researchers presenting the state of science across areas such as breeding and feed additives to reduce methane, and soil and pasture management to reduce nitrous oxide and increase carbon sequestration. In addition, the audience will hear about a wide range of international collaborative climate research initiatives that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is involved in, while also considering the potential role of a diversified agriculture and land use sector in reducing and offsetting emissions. 

In his pre-recorded remarks to open the conference, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will say: “At 25%, the scale of the challenge for Irish farming and agriculture is significant and I don’t underestimate what it’s asking of the sector. However, I know that farmers and those working in the sector can and will rise to this challenge. It is in the interests of the Irish agriculture and food industry to be at the centre of a decade of change, shaping it and driving it to achieve a more sustainable food production sector”.

The Taoiseach will also say: “Acting with resolve on climate change will be good for Ireland, good for Irish agriculture and good for Irish farmers. We all have a part to play and must work together in finding the best way forward. I believe this conference today is important because it will be a discussion based on the science”.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Minister McConalogue said: “A more sustainable agri-food system will require the right policy environment, investment in science and innovation, diversifying our systems of production and land use, and coming together in a collective spirit of determination to contribute our fair share in the fight against climate change. Today’s conference, held during Science Week 2023, is an opportunity to hear new ideas and new science, to engage in discussion, and to identify what more we can do to support our farmers who are on the frontline of climate change impacts themselves”. 

As part of the conference, Minister McConalogue along with Minister of State with special responsibility for research and innovation, Martin Heydon T.D., will announce awards of over €3.8 million for researchers in four climate and agriculture research projects. These are the result of the 2023 Ireland – New Zealand Joint Research Call. The initiative is supported by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries. 

The projects are in key areas including inventory refinement from pasture-based farming systems, peatland soil modelling to enhance carbon sequestration, soil sensor development for near real-time organic carbon monitoring for climate action by farmers, and nitrous oxide emission reduction from accelerating biological nitrification inhibition in mixed pastures.

Speaking on the announcement of the awards at the Aviva Stadium, Minister of State Martin Heydon said: “I am delighted to announce here today at this important conference the continuation of our strong investment in agriculture and climate change research. There is more science and innovation in our food system than ever before and we must continue to invest in future innovations to ensure the sector is fully equipped to meet its targets. The funding of €3.8million by my Department is testament to our commitment to the more rapid development of new climate technologies by working together collaboratively.”

Continuing, Minister Heydon said: “I am also pleased to indicate that in the coming weeks, Minister McConalogue and I will announce a further €20 million in new research funding arising from a research call run by my Department earlier this year and that 44% of this, or €8.8 million, will go towards climate research”.

For her part, Minister of State with special responsibility for land use and biodiversity Senator Pippa Hackett remarked: “Today’s conference is a great opportunity for a stock take on where we are in terms of the science and policy around agriculture and climate change. The very large attendance shows the level of commitment in the sector to make positive and impactful change. I am delighted to participate in the panel session on diversification in our agriculture and land use, particularly to highlight the range of options now open to landowners to plant trees. Whether through the Organic Farming Scheme or the new Forestry Programme, there are really attractive financial options for farmers to deliver on climate in a way that can complement their existing systems and boost their income”.

Concluding, Minister McConalogue said: “Today is a day where we can share our knowledge, experience, and best practice in order to collectively rise to the climate challenge. I truly believe that this collective commitment, allied with harnessing the power of innovation, technology and science, can create a future where food security is ensured, ecosystems are preserved, and the well-being of current and future generations is safeguarded. I hope that the 500 delegates attending will seize this moment to ensure that agriculture and climate change are no longer adversaries but partners in shaping a brighter, greener, and more prosperous future for all”.