IFA President Joe Healy has welcomed the publication of the Action Plan for Rural Development by the Government, saying it must be resourced with sufficient funding that can arrest the decline of rural areas, particularly those areas that are peripheral.
He said, “The recent upturn in the economy has not been felt in rural Ireland. IFA believes that with a well-funded plan, significant inroads can be made. It’s an important step towards delivering on the commitment to rural-proof Government policy and revitalise rural Ireland”.
Joe Healy said it was important that the Government report recognised the threat posed by Brexit, which has serious ramifications for the farming and food sectors.
He said, “This report accepts many of the proposals set out in IFA’s rural affairs strategy document A Policy Charter for Rural Ireland. However, action is now required and I am calling on Government to set out specific timelines for the delivery of each one of the measures proposed and the publication of a progress report in 90 days.”
Joe Healy said, “Agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy and the jobs that flow from a vibrant farming sector, both directly and indirectly, cannot be underestimated in the Government’s rural plan. The food and drinks industry as well as the wider agri-industry adds value to what farmers produce”.
The IFA President said rural areas must be made more attractive to live and invest in. “The report contains some significant proposals, particularly around areas such as rural banking and vacant properties, which have the scope to really revitalise rural Ireland. Many areas need a good infrastructure including the provision of a fast broadband service. This will help the strong entrepreneurial spirit that exists in rural Ireland. The roll out of the national broadband network to all areas must be a priority”.
Joe Healy said IFA looks forward to working with the various agencies on this plan.