Ministers share different visions | Life on the farm

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Minister Edwin Poots.  Photograph by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Minister Edwin Poots. Photograph by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Edwin Poots, Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for Northern Ireland, said their future agricultural policy proposals focused on environmentally friendly agriculture.

“Improving our peatlands and hedges and allowing more tree planting are all key parts of how we want to tackle the problem of climate change. We also want to be smarter in the way we cultivate.

“Instead of just being a producer of milk or meat, we need to see this animal as a producer of renewable energy. The methane currently released into the environment must be captured and reused and we must have more anaerobic digestion on our farms. “

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Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice has said that meeting climate ambitions will require change.

“Simply put, our vision is for a more sustainable agricultural industry where we produce a significant amount of our own food.

“National food production is an essential part of our food security and that is why we will monitor it every three years.

“Our policy will put in place powerful incentives to support sustainable agriculture. This includes sensitive management of hedges allowing hedges to recover, recognizing them as the single most important green building element in the agricultural landscape, and good soil management with an emphasis on soil health and biodiversity. . But it should also be noted that there will be some change in land use.

The land use changes include targets of 10,000 hectares of new woodland creation per year and the ambition to restore 300,000 hectares of habitats to their natural state.

With 50% of farmers already engaged in some sort of rural stewardship, Mr Eustice announced that Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) payment rates would increase to 30%. In addition, any breeder who is currently a BPS applicant will be entitled to a funded visit from a veterinarian once a year to set up an animal health strategy.

Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, outlined their plans for Welsh farmers to be leaders in sustainable food production.

“For us, we’re going to create a new farm support system so that we can really maximize the power of nature throughout farming. Our farm bill is essential to meet these ambitions.

‘Welsh farmers can continue to produce high quality food, while maintaining these very high production standards, but what we are proposing is to ask our farmers to go further and we will provide support – to both financial and advisory – through the sustainable agriculture program to target results in relation to environmental issues. At the moment, farmers are currently not being rewarded for clean air, clean water and flood mitigation, so this is what we will be looking at as part of our sustainable agriculture agenda.

Meanwhile, Edwin Poots posted a New Years message detailing his priorities for the coming period.

He explained: ‘Agriculture is the lifeblood of our rural economy – feeding our people and many others beyond our shores, with the sector generating over £ 5 billion for our economy and all of the food supply chain employing more than 100,000 people. It is vital for all that we succeed in a sustainable and global way.

“I recently launched a consultation on Future Agricultural Policy Proposals for Northern Ireland, which offers for the first time in almost 50 years a unique opportunity to collectively redefine our agricultural policy and target support to respond more effectively to our local priorities.

“I want us all to work together to develop a sustainable agricultural industry in which all farmers are equitably supported to make the most of the assets at their disposal and to invest in all forms of capital; physical, human and environmental; in their farms.

Edwin Poots continued, “I also want to continue to develop support programs that provide all of our farmers with the opportunity to become more efficient, resilient and environmentally friendly and to maximize returns for themselves and for society. assets available to them.

“Climate change is the defining crisis of our time globally and nationally and is a key priority for my department and the Northern Ireland executive. In 2021, the spotlight is on Glasgow with the COP26 conference.

“Helping introduce Northern Ireland to COP26 has been a privilege. This allowed us to share our experiences, including the development of the NI Executive cross-cutting and multi-decade green growth strategy project. This sets our long-term vision and a strong framework to tackle the climate crisis, help us meet our goals and make our fair contribution to the UK’s goal of achieving net zero by 2050. J ‘ I also launched a consultation on our very first Environmental Strategy at COP26.

You can see the full article on page 37.

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