IFA Deputy President, Richard Kennedy, has said that the findings of the Teagasc Small Farms Survey 2015, show the need for a coordinated Government response to address farm viability, deliver off-farm employment opportunities, and to upskill farm households.
He said, “ this is a hugely informative report that has been produced by Teagasc. It provides analysis and insights into the economic, social and environmental sustainability of small farms in Ireland. The information contained in the report will provide a valuable input into future policy development, under the CAP and Rural Development programmes, for succession planning, and for broader economic development in rural areas” .
He continued, “These farms play an important role in the rural economy and society; however the farm income earned is very low, with almost 90% of the farms in receipt of an additional income source. Almost 50% of these farms are not deemed to be viable. It is critically important that coordinated Government action across a range of departments is undertaken to improve the economic sustainability of these households”.
Mr Kennedy identified some specific actions that must be considered, including:
- A dedicated development measure for small farms delivered under the LEADER programme.
- Expansion of the Rural Social Scheme, with increased flexibility to include farmers who are low income, but not in receipt of Farm Assist or other social welfare payments.
- Incentivised measures to support the restructuring of farms
- In future EU Rural Development Programmes, the contribution of smaller farms to improving biodiversity and climate change mitigation must be optimised.
Mr Kennedy concluded, “It is important that this Teagasc research, which complements the National Farm Survey, is undertaken on a regular basis, to provide up to date information and to track the changes of this specific group of farmers.”.