"Helping them to adjust their farming practices, for example, through greater use of multi-species swards, soil sampling and liming, investment in low emissions slurry spreading, and improvements in the use of organic fertilizer. I have also put a strong focus on knowledge transfer and innovation to guide farmers through the current crisis."
The agricultural aspects of the proposed Nature Restoration Regulation are also on the agenda. The Minister said: "I fully subscribe to the need to effectively manage and restore our natural habitats. At the same time, the proposed regulation gives rise to many challenges from the perspectives of agriculture, forestry, and marine. There are a number of issues that will require detailed consideration, and we will feed into the discussions on these issues as appropriate. However, at this juncture, it is already clear that, given the scope and ambition of the proposal, it is unrealistic to expect that CAP funding, which is currently fully committed in line with Member States' CAP Strategic Plans, could be the main funding instrument to deliver these extremely ambitious targets."
Ministers will also discuss the bio-economy. In this regard, the Minister commented: "The time is now ripe for further progress in bio-economy development. The Commission and the Member States should now assess what is required for scaling up in order to embed bio-economy in the mainstream, given its ever-increasing importance in the climate- and environment-proofing of the agri-food system. This will require a coherent approach across all Commission services to promote, support, and develop the bio-economy and to ensure that the bio-economy is suitably integrated into all relevant policies."
Looking forward to the discussion on the implementation of the EU Forest Strategy, the Minister said: "Ireland is preparing a new and hugely exciting forestry program to start next year. This new strategy stresses the multiple functions of forests and the essential balance between the ecological, climate, economic and social functions of forests, ensuring equal attention to all of these dimensions of sustainability. This is a concrete action aimed at delivering on all of these objectives.
"I believe that there is a shared willingness on the part of the Commission and Member States to implement the EU Forest Strategy in an integrated, collaborative way. The Standing Committee on Forestry should play an enhanced role in advising the Commission on implementation, as stated in the November 2021 Council Conclusions."
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