Climate action support for farmers central plank of budget plans

Boosting of sustainable ‘carbon farming’ under examination along with solar energy

A ramping up of climate action measures including initiatives to encourage carbon capturing and solar power generation by farmers are central to the Minister for Agriculture’s budget plans.

Talks continue between Charlie McConalogue and Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan over ceilings for carbon emissions in the agriculture sector.

Mr McConalogue has been under pressure from farming organisations and rural TDs to resist the Green Party leader’s push for carbon emissions cuts in agriculture to be at the higher end of a scale of between 22 per cent and 30 per cent.

Mr Ryan had said the deal with other departments on so-called carbon budgets would be signed off on before the Dáil’s summer recess this week but that is now unlikely to happen.


Mr McConalogue said over the weekend that the long-term sustainability of the agriculture sector and farm families is his “key objective” in the talks.

The Fianna Fáil Minister did not offer an indication of how discussions with Mr Ryan were progressing, but did confirm they would help frame his department’s Budget 2023 goals.

One area being examined is how the so-called carbon farming model can be boosted. Carbon farming is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide and storing it in soils, crop roots, wood and leaves with a view to helping reduce climate change.

Soil fertility

Mr McConalogue said farmers were already being supported with “climate smart measures” through grants for growing grasses that require less chemical nitrogen as well as incentives for tillage to incorporate straw into the soil to boost soil fertility. The intention is to “build on these measures and step them out even further.”

He also said he was “keen to step up our ambitions around solar energy”.

There are grants in place to help farmers use solar energy on their own farm but he plans to increase the grant aid and is exploring how we can help farmers sell excess energy to the grid.

Green Party Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett told RTÉ carbon budgets were always going to be a “difficult issue” and the important thing was to “get those decisions right” and “if it takes another couple of weeks to tease out the details in the climate ceilings then so be it”.

Elsewhere, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has confirmed that the €100-per-child increases to the back to school clothing and footwear allowance will start to be paid next Monday, July 18th, rather than August as had been initially suggested.

School allowances

The increase means the total amount being paid to low-income families for each eligible primary school child aged will be €260, with €385 for secondary school students. An estimated 151,000 families are expected to benefit from the scheme.

Separately, proposals are set to go to Cabinet that would see €500 million more being spent per year on the Defence Forces.

The report of the recent Commission on the Defence Forces presented a number of options to the Government, with one suggesting that funding should increase from the €1.1 billion per year being spent currently to €1.5 billion by 2030.

Under the proposed agreement reached by Minister for Defence Simon Coveney and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath spending would hit that level before 2030.

The plans are expected to be brought to Cabinet on Tuesday for a decision by Government.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times