Department of Agriculture Sets its Sights on Sustainable Food System

The Department of Agriculture has outlined its Draft Agri-Food Strategy 2030, with targets aimed towards becoming a global leader in Sustainable Food Systems. The strategy has been devised by the Department of Agriculture and some 33 relevant stakeholders including farm organisations and industry. The main objectives set out in the strategy include targets for:

  1. A climate-neutral agriculture industry by 2050, with sufficient progress by 2030;
  2. Improved water quality, namely, to reduce nutrient losses to water due to agriculture by 50% by 2030;
  3. Increased biodiversity and to have 10% of farmed area assigned for biodiversity by 2030;
  4. Improved air quality, namely, to reduce ammonia emissions to below 107,500t by 2030.

The strategy outlines initiatives that will ensure the delivery of these targets by 2030. These include steps to cut levels of methane produced from livestock by 10%, a cut in the use of chemical nitrogen by 55,500t and an increase of 5.5% in the area of land farmed for organics. These objectives have been set for 2030, along with other goals such as the use of low-emission equipment and lower levels of pesticide use.

The need for sustainable practices in the sector calls for research and innovation, to find solutions that allow for goals to be met in a timely manner while maintaining growth for the industry. The strategy highlights technology and talent as the drivers of an innovative, competitive and resilient agri-food sector. It proposes the following actions:

  • To maintain current levels of funding for research into agri-food;
  • To target private funding of R&D in the industry to increase to 1% of turnover on average by 2025;
  • To support research collaboration between agri-food and other research fields;
  • To review R&D tax credits for the agri-food sector specifically.

The shift towards sustainable agriculture is taking place globally, as it has become recognised as a factor in environmental and social concerns. Countries such as The Netherlands, Australia, India, Denmark and Sweden have implemented policy reforms pertaining to sustainable agriculture. Such shifts to sustainable food chains are proposed with expected positive long-term benefits for economic stability, social stability and environmental stability.

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