LOUTH IFA recently invited all Louth County Councillors, TDs, MEPs and Senators to a meeting to discuss the importance of the Rural Development Fund for the period 2014 to 2020 to farmers and the local economy in Co Louth.
At the meeting, Louth IFA explained how important agriculture is to the economy.
The agri-food industry contributed over €9 billion in food and drinks exports for the first time in 2012 with exports increasing again in the first half of 2013 by eight per cent. The agriculture and food industry accounts for 300,000 jobs in the country.
Professor Alan Renwick of UCD published a report that shows that for every €1 of support for the cattle and sheep sector that the government give farmers it is worth over €4 of output to the economy.
The government has to get back to the commission soon with a decision as to what level of national funding they are going to match to draw down the €313 million per year which the country will get from the Pillar 2 rural development fund for the next seven years..
'It is crucial that the government ensure that we have a well funded rural development fund , this year alone we have seen the national herd drop by over 100,000 as result of cut backs in budgets since 2008,' said Louth IFA chairman Matthew McGreehan.
'Farmers will not be able to continue to provide the raw material for exports which we have seen in recent years'.
'The average family farm income fell by 15 per cent in 2012, cost have risen considerably on Irish farms in recent years and there are huge bills on some farms as result of last year's bad weather,' he said.