Finding routes to rural renewal

Tue, Aug 26, 2014, 01:05

Sir, – I was confused by the assertion in your editorial (“Renewing rural Ireland”, August 20th) that directing the majority of rural development funding under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to farmers is a mistake and could undermine rural prosperity and employment.

Agriculture is the predominant rural industry; to take funding away from a farming sector that is already under severe financial pressure would lead to a grave deterioration in the rural economy, and certainly not an improvement.

The objective of the Rural Development Programme allocated under the CAP is to improve the economic and social situation of all rural areas.

Agriculture is the backbone industry of the rural economy and directing funding towards farming enterprises in order to meet that objective makes perfect sense.

The resourcing of agriculture through the Rural Development Programme funding pays dividends not just for farmers but for economic activity across rural Ireland.

Over 300,000 people are employed directly on farms or indirectly in the agri-food industry throughout Ireland, while the industry contributes approximately €24 billion to the national economy.

A buoyant and sustainable agriculture sector, and a fair standard of living for the agricultural community, will drive a regionally balanced economic recovery. Towns are the traditional centres of economic activity in rural Ireland, but farming and the agri-industry based in and around those towns have always driven and sustained that economic activity. They must be supported to continue to do so. – Yours, etc,

FLOR McCARTHY,

IFA National Rural

Development Chairman,

Kilowen House,

Kenmare,

Co Kerry.

Sir, – I read with interest the 34 recommendations by the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (“34 ways to improve rural life”, August 23rd).

May I suggest a 35th? Establish a responsible and strategic delivery for a co-ordinated and accountable mechanism that would implement capacity-building within a regulatory and administrative framework in order for the continuation of a community-led developmental approach with the potential to open up economic and proportionate frameworks, along with a multi-agency approach to further develop public policy instruments that would highlight a clear national definition.

I could add a couple more but I have to pop out and milk the goats. – Yours, etc,

TIM FitzSIMON,

Attyslany,

Tubber,

Co Clare.