Seamus Troy, chairman of Tipperary ICMSA, welcomed the launch of the CEDRA report and said that on first study there seemed a great deal in it that was of real value and insight.
Mr Troy said that no one could seriously doubt that rural Ireland’s economy needed help but he did express some caution around the dangers of “reinventing the wheel” as far as the core economic activity of rural Ireland was concerned.
“We remain convinced that the most available and certainly most rewarding, economic activity available to rural Ireland is the same one that has always underpinned its prosperit - farming and food production.
“We shouldn’t need a study – even one as estimable as CEDRA – to grasp the fact that if Irish farming can be moved on to a long, continuous, upward trend of sustainable production and income then the whole rural economy will move upwards in tandem. That’s why when we see recommendations about allocations of EU Rural development funding ‘outside the farm gate’ that would actually result in a cut to farm schemes, we have to express disagreement.
“We know for a fact that increasing the prosperity of family farms is the most tried and trusted way of increasing the prosperity of our rural economy overall.
“And while we’re happy to acknowledge the fact that not everyone living in rural Ireland is involved in farming or food production we would still feel that it must be recognised as the economic ‘prime mover’ in our countryside.
“We support anything that helps energise our rural areas but we have to guard against ‘reinventing the wheel’ and not seeing that perhaps the most important tool to doing that is right there in the shape of our family farms – we’re not saying that it’s the only tool, but we are saying that it is still the most important one.
“The best way of developing a healthy rural economy is developing and helping our family farm system go forward and prosper.
“We’d be very interested, for instance, in how this report fits in with the ambitions and targets set out in Food Harvest 2020 because there isn’t a single mention of that national target that we could find”, said the Thurles farmer and Chair of the Tipperary ICMSA executive