The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Pippa Hackett has marked her first full calendar year in office by highlighting her achievement in 2021 and outlining her priorities for 2022.
Looking back at year end, the Minister said: “It’s been a very productive and busy year. The agreeing of a CAP Strategic Plan to submit to the EU by the end of it, has consumed a lot of time and effort on behalf of so many – officials, farmers and all other stakeholders too, but 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.”
Minister Hackett also spoke about the extent to which progress had been made on forestry: “Forestry has progressed. We still have issues with licensing, but this year we have issued over 4,000 so there have 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.”
Given that the Programme for Government includes a commitment to increasing the amount of land under organic management to 7.5%, the Minister also addressed that sector: “Our ambition for the organic sector is huge, but we have secured sufficient funding in the next CAP, €256m, to deliver on it. We have also established a stand-along division within the department to deal solely with organics. I believe that will help. And given the enthusiasm, both domestically and internationally, for organic produce, I believe we will drive the sector forward.”
And Minister Hackett concluded: “Through the year, I also realised that my passion remains the soil. It really IS all about the soil. So I was proud to see actions on soil improvement through clover and multi species swards being both discussed and indeed supported. 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.”