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Minister Simon Coveney Opens International 'Catchment Science 2011' Conference and Announces Funding for Agriculture Catchments Programme

Today, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, opened a major 3¿day International Conference entitled 'Catchment Science 2011'.  The conference is taking place at the Mansion House in Dublin and is the culmination of the work carried out by Teagasc in the Agricultural Catchments Programme, which has been funded over the last 4 years by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The Minister welcomed representatives from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK, who are jointly hosting the conference with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and with Teagasc. Minister Coveney said that “the Agricultural Catchments Programme was established by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in order to provide the necessary scientific evidence base to underpin Irish agricultural policy in the context of obligations under the EU Nitrates Directive and the EU Water Framework Directive”.

The Minister said "balancing the management of agricultural landscapes so that we achieve both environmental and economic objectives is the key question to be addressed at this 3-day conference.  We then need to translate our scientific knowledge on the sustainable management of agricultural catchments into sound agricultural policy".

The Minister paid tribute to the team of Teagasc researchers and advisors who are working on the Programme and he acknowledged the invaluable contribution made by more than 300 farmers who are voluntarily participating in six monitor catchments established across the country.  Minister Coveney met with the farmers involved in one of these catchments when he officially launched this international conference in Timoleague, Co Cork a number of weeks ago. The Minister also noted that "the new scientific knowledge being generated by the Agricultural Catchments Programme will be critical to the sustainable expansion of Irish milk and meat production from grass and therefore will be critical to achieving the ambitious growth targets of Food Harvest 2020".

In this context, Minister Coveney said he was "delighted to announce that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will continue to fund this important Programme over a second 4 year period from 2012 to 2015.  This will allow the Programme to continue to build a body of scientific evidence, over several years, which will make an important contribution to the ongoing development of sound agricultural policy".

The Minister concluded by saying "I wish you every success with 'Catchment Science 2011' and I am confident that the work to be presented to the expert national and international audience here over the next three days will generate important discussion on how to integrate improved management of agricultural catchments into future agricultural policy".

Date Released: 14 September 2011