Food Vision 2030
In August 2021 the government of Ireland approved and signed a new food technology strategy for the upcoming ten years. The plan is called food vision 2030 and strives towards becoming a world leader in sustainable food systems. This will include innovation for sustainable food and agriculture systems, producing safe, nutritious, and high value food that tastes great while protecting and enhancing our natural and cultural resources and contributing to vibrant rural and coastal communities and the economy of Ireland (Food Vision 2030 – A World Leader in Sustainable Food Systems, 2021).
The strategy is divided into four missions:
- A smart climate, environmentally sustainable agri-food sector.
- Viable and resilient primary producers with enhanced well-being.
- Food, which is safe, nutritious, and appealing, trusted, and valued at home and abroad.
- An innovative, competitive, and resilient agri-food sector, driven by technology and talent.
The missions aim toward a total of 22 goals. The strategy uses a form of participative deliberation and involvement in preparing the strategy. This means that the sector itself is its owner and has a strong vested interested in successful implementation (Food Vision 2030 – A World Leader in Sustainable Food Systems, 2021).
The central theme of this Strategy is that this interdependence should be recognised within national policy, by using a food systems approach. The food systems approach acknowledges the link between policies for food, climate, the environment, health (human, animal, and planetary), and focuses on the role each part of the food chain has in delivering the 2030 vision. The Strategy’s primary role is to provide a vision and associated policies for the sector for the coming decade. But it also has an important role in communicating the Irish vision and commitments to key audiences at EU, UK, and international level, and to the major customers for Irish food and drink (Food Vision 2030 – A World Leader in Sustainable Food Systems, 2021).
While the Strategy provides the vision and missions to facilitate a transformation to a sustainable food system, it should not be seen as a final or definitive roadmap. It is a framework within which more detailed plans and processes need to be developed. The developments in National and international policy will also be important and the Strategy should be seen in this context, It is the beginning of the pathway to the vision of a more sustainable food system (Food Vision 2030 – A World Leader in Sustainable Food Systems, 2021).
The launch of Food Vision was accompanied by some inspiring and promising words. Micheál Martin (An Taoiseach) stated: “We accept the challenge put to Government, to work with the sector in ensuring its future sustainability, economic, environmental and social, and in realising the inherent opportunities that presents.” (Launch of “Food Vision 2030 – A World Leader in Sustainable Food Systems”, 2021). The minister for Agriculture, food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue states: “the strategy recognises the crucial role the sector has and will continue to play in rural and coastal communities, and in achieving balanced regional development for the country as a whole.” (Launch of “Food Vision 2030 – A World Leader in Sustainable Food Systems”, 2021). She continues with: “I am delighted that the Government endorses and supports for the strategy and I look forward to working with all stakeholders in its implementation.” (Launch of “Food Vision 2030 – A World Leader in Sustainable Food Systems”, 2021). Last, she promises her involvement by stating: “This agreed Food Vision 2030 strategy sets a clear agenda for change, and I will work to ensure its success”.
Tom Arnold, chair of the agri-food stakeholder committee, also shows his confidence in the success of the strategy by stating: “Through its experience of developing its own agri-food strategy and the political commitment to attain the highest standards of sustainability within its domestic policy, Ireland will be in a strong position to play a leadership role in the increasingly substantial debate at international level on sustainable food systems. I have every confidence it will do so.” (Launch of Food Vision 2030 – A World Leader in Sustainable Food Systems, 2021).
The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) has broadly welcomed the strategy. Jerry long, the president of ICOS stated: “We will work to achieve this strategy through knowledge, innovation, the application of science and best practices in farming and food processing, in parallel with our commitment to protecting the environment and assuring the long-term sustainability and viability of our farm families and our enterprises for the future.” (Commins and ICMSA president, 2021). Peppa Hackett (green party senator and minister of state at the department of agriculture) shares her love towards the strategy by stating: “We want a future for farming in Ireland in which incomes are up and emissions are down. We believe such a clean, green, profitable future is possible. It is achievable. And the Green Party is proud of the part it is playing in making it a reality.” (Hacket, 2021).
Outside of the big welcome the strategy received, several groups have stated their concerns. One of them is Pat McCormack, the president of the Irish Creamery and milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA). He stated that the ambitions were both notable and achievable but he also added that strategy would not be effective if we don’t state categorically to the public that the food prices must and will increase as part of that drive to become more sustainable (‘Food Vision 2030’ aims to make Ireland world leader in sustainable food systems – Shelflife Magazine, 2021). He continued saying: “This lack of clarity is going to undermine that intent and ambition of strategies like Food Vision 2030 and it’s actually just delaying a very necessary conversation we as a society need to have about what we all need to do going forward – not just the farmers, not just the co-ops and not just the regulatory agencies, but actually the consuming public as well.” (Commins and ICMSA president, 2021).
Tim Cullinan, Irish Farmers’ Association President, welcomed the strategy but warned that it must be backed by government investments to see support from the farmers themselves (Dodd, 2021). Patricia Callan, director of Drinks stated her concern towards the minimal recognition of the tillage sector within a carbon-efficient agriculture. She stated: “We believe that this target requires more detailed definition, to include a focus on reversing the loss of land planted under spring barley. We believe there is a need for a detailed implementation plan to drive the delivery of this target.” (Commins and ICMSA president, 2021).
Concerns towards the environment are stated by the minister for the environment (Eamon Ryan) and the director of Friends of the Earth (Oisin Coghlan). Oisin stated the strategy did not match with Ireland’s international obligations on climate, pollution, biodiversity, and water quality (Dodd, 2021). Eamon Ryan said the strategy must adjust to meet the Climate Action Plan being launched later this year. He stated: “This will be crucial in future-proofing Ireland’s agricultural and marine sectors.” (Dodd, 2021). Environmental Pillar (Ireland’s leading coalition of environmental groups) criticised the draft version of the strategy earlier in the year and even withdrew from the process. They criticised the proposal for perpetuating the “business-as-usual model of intensification pursued for the last ten years.” (Dodd, 2021). They wrote documents about their concerns towards the strategy on their website and one of them is linked down below (Food Vision 2030: another detrimental blueprint for agriculture, 2021).
Shelflife Magazine. 2021. ‘Food Vision 2030’ aims to make Ireland world leader in sustainable food systems – Shelflife Magazine. [online] Available at: <https://www.shelflife.ie/food-vision-2030-aims-to-make-ireland-world-leader-in-sustainable-food-systems/> [Accessed 10 August 2021].
Commins, B. and ICMSA president, P., 2021. Food Vision 2030: Mixed reaction to new 10-year industry strategy –. [online] Agriland.ie. Available at: <https://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/food-vision-2030-mixed-reaction-to-new-10-year-strategy/> [Accessed 10 August 2021].
Dodd, E., 2021. What you need to know about Ireland’s new food strategy. [online] Buzz.ie. Available at: <https://www.buzz.ie/news/gov-unveils-food-vision-2030-24684589> [Accessed 10 August 2021].
Assets.gov.ie. 2021. Food Vision 2030 – A World Leader in Sustainable Food Systems. [online] Available at: <https://assets.gov.ie/179696/6c6b405e-7c06-4f23-82c0-9edaf7d70a8a.pdf> [Accessed 6 August 2021].
Environmental Pillar. 2021. Food Vision 2030: another detrimental blueprint for agriculture. [online] Available at: <https://environmentalpillar.ie/food-vision-2030-another-detrimental-blueprint-for-agriculture/> [Accessed 10 August 2021].
Hacket, P., 2021. Opinion: ‘The shift coming in Irish agriculture must be transformational – but it will be positive too’. [online] MSN. Available at: <https://www.msn.com/en-ie/news/other/opinion-the-shift-coming-in-irish-agriculture-must-be-transformational-but-it-will-be-positive-too/ar-AAMSVk1?ocid=uxbndlbing> [Accessed 10 August 2021].
Gov.ie. 2021. Launch of “Food Vision 2030 – A World Leader in Sustainable Food Systems”. [online] Available at: <https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/d1108-launch-of-food-vision-2030-a-world-leader-in-sustainable-food-systems/> [Accessed 10 August 2021].