Food Harvest 2020 deadline extended

Mon, Jul 2, 2012, 01:00

THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture has extended the deadline to Friday for written submissions on the environmental implications of Food Harvest 2020, the agri-industry’s blueprint for development.

Under the strategy, growth targets for 2020 include increasing the value of primary agricultural output by €1.5 billion and its “value-added” by €3 billion, as well achieving an export target of €12 billion for the sector.

It envisages that milk and pigmeat production would both rise by 50 per cent, beef and sheep output by 20 per cent, poultry production by 10 per cent and fish-farming production by 78 per cent.

The strategy would involve increasing the number of cattle by three million more than the 5,925,300 figure for 2011, the number of sheep by 650,000 more than last year’s figure of 3,321,300, and the number of pigs by 800,000 on top of the 1,552,900 recorded in 2011.

“These targets naturally would result in a very significant increase in the environmental footprint of the industry in Ireland”, said Cork-based environmental consultant Declan Waugh. “The requirements for water, feed and waste disposal will be enormous, as well as energy inputs.”

Likely impacts are to be studied by independent consultants under a number of headings, including biodiversity, flora and fauna, water, soil, air quality, landscape and “climatic factors”, including greenhouse gas emissions.

The Food Harvest 2020 strategy was prepared by an industry-led committee whose terms of reference were to prepare “a draft strategy for the medium-term development of the agri-food (including drinks), fisheries and forestry sector for the period to 2020”.

Its deliberations relied on a number of sources, including the outcomes of a “food industry summit” facilitated by Harvard Business School, and the report made 215 recommendations.

The latest analysis will consider a number of alternative approaches to achieving the growth targets, including “higher production efficiency, intensification and expansion/land use change within an environmental context”, according to a statement from the department.

Submissions should be sent to Noel O’Connor, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co Wexford, or by email to envanalysis@agriculture.gov.ie.