Government will stand behind farmers as Irish agriculture adapts to the challenge of reducing its carbon emissions, according to An Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

He said that while challenging, the sector’s climate targets can be achieved and that in doing so, farmers will have a “crucial and inescapable role to play” as they adapt to the “substantial” changes required.

Martin made the comments in an address to Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) members at the association’s annual general meeting at the Mansion House, Dublin, on Thursday.


He described the agri-food sector’s performance during the pandemic as one which again demonstrated “the resilience of this sector”.

“Ireland has a long and proud history of agriculture and I believe we can reinvent and secure this tradition for the 21st century.

“The agri-food sector is Ireland’s oldest and largest indigenous exporting sector. It is an integral part of our economy and society, especially so for our rural communities.”

He said fertiliser prices are a "matter of deep concern", which could be "exacerbated" by political interventions in Russia. He said Government will "work with farmers to mitigate the risk".

Food strategy

Martin drew attention to Government’s Food Vision 2030 and noted IFA president Tim Cullinan’s contribution in shaping the plan.

The Government leader said: “Food Vision is a landmark for the Irish agri-food sector and has the potential to transform our agriculture, food, forestry and marine sectors in the period to 2030. It raises many of the challenges that need to be met.

“The primary producer, our farmers, fishers and foresters, have a prominence and centrality in this strategy that sets it apart from its predecessors.”

He said achieving the plan’s objectives will involve improving the competitiveness and productivity of primary producers.

“It also focuses on social sustainability across areas such as generational renewal, gender balance, health and safety, mental health and well-being and rural development.”


An Taoiseach also outlined the continuing success of Irish agri-food exports.

He said such exports “fell by just 2% in 2020 at the height of the pandemic” and then “rebounded in 2021”.

He claimed that such progress has led to the “average family farm income” increasing for the third year in a row in 2021 with dairy, sheep and tillage performing strongly.

“Indeed, the challenges of the pandemic intertwined with the fallout of Brexit make the resilience demonstrated by the sector all the more impressive,” he said.

Climate Action Plan

The Cork man also outlined the role of the Climate Action Plan 2021 to IFA members.

On the plan, he said “further work will be undertaken in the coming months to determine specific sectoral emissions ceilings for each sector for the period from now until 2030”.

He said there are “growing questions that are being asked of the agricultural sector about its emissions”.

“These questions will only grow and intensify in coming years as all sectors are asked to play their full part in what has to be a great national effort.”


An Taoiseach said Irish farming and forestry is at a “crossroads”.

“Threats and opportunities abound, but our choice now is to either honestly address the challenge that climate change poses for the sector and together harness the opportunities that this changing context presents or, as some voices counsel, to resist what I see is quickly becoming irresistible.

“Farmers know their land better than anyone and are well placed to lead in meeting our climate ambitions,” he said.