[Sinn Fein]

26th March 2003

Ferris: Teagasc Cutbacks Undermine Future Of Farming

Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development, Martin Ferris TD, has stated that the cuts and closures currently being forced on Teagasc will seriously undermine the future of Irish farming as it faces into another year of crisis and the proposed reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. Deputy Ferris was speaking following a presentation by Dr. Jim Flanagan, Teagasc National Director, to the Joint Committee on Agriculture and Food.

Deputy Ferris questioned Dr. Flanagan in regard to the manner in which the cuts were effecting the work of the authority in research and education. Ferris also questioned the Government s commitment to the modernisation and development of agriculture given these cuts and others which have affected the introduction and support of young farmers. Dr Flanagan admitted that the restrictions on the Teagasc budget have forced them to curtail the scale and extent of their activities.

The decision to enforce these cuts at this time will further exacerbate the crisis in Irish agriculture. As Dr. Flanagan admitted, the cuts will force many highly skilled people out of agricultural research and education and this will further undermine the ability of the sector to adapt and innovate in the future. It is particularly important that as we face into the proposed CAP reform that Irish agriculture is equipped with the facilities and personnel to assess the impact of the reforms and develop alternative proposals. It is a telling comment on this Government s attitude to farming that such cuts should be made at this particular time .

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