IFA Deputy President and Countryside Chairman Tim O’ Leary has called on the next Government to support farming and the wider rural economy by implementing the measures contained in the Association’s rural affairs policy document.
Mr. O’ Leary said, “IFA’s Policy Charter for Rural Ireland identifies key measures to deliver a more balanced economic recovery across the regions, which is essential with CSO figures showing contrasting unemployment rates across the country, ranging from 8.8% in Dublin to 12 and 13% in the West, Midlands and South-East regions.
Policy priorities under the Association’s Rural Charter include:
- A high quality rural fibre broadband network across the countryside, to support farm business, job creation, investment and rural development.
- A three year exemption from local authority rates for new business start-ups, to support local enterprise development in rural areas.
- Measures such as tax-credits to encourage employers to take on apprentices and create long term employment.
- Tax incentives for businesses to locate in villages and town centres, which have been decimated during the recession.
- Increased and measurable targets for policing hours and presence of mobile units in rural areas by An Garda Síochána, to reduce crime and create a greater sense of security in the countryside.
- An increased and ring-fenced annual rural roads budget from the Department of Transport each year, allocated to local authorities as part of a planned repair and maintenance programme.
- An increase in the number of voluntary rural walk schemes to support economic development and tourism in rural areas.
- A package of measures from the Department of Transport to facilitate the development of proposed Greenway projects, while protecting farmers’ rights.
- Increased fines and greater enforcement by local authorities to tackle the scourge of littering by passing motorists and users of the countryside.
Rural Ireland continues to be a good place to live and work in and enjoy. However, this Rural Charter seeks to address the challenges faced by rural communities and ensure a more balanced recovery takes place.