Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 March 2018

Island farms receive a boost

Island communities are to get special payments for the first time in the new Rural Development budget.

While the Department of Agriculture says that it is still "examining mechanisms to support island farming," its draft consultation paper says that the support is warranted because of island communities' dependence on agriculture, "both in terms of economic activity and the role that agriculture plays in the preservation of landscapes and ecosystems.

"Island agriculture usually differs from intensive farming systems and faces a number of constraints such as isolation, high infrastructure and transport costs, land quality and income issues," it adds.


A fund of €1m is to be made available for new farm partnerships, with a maximum payment of €2,500 per partnership.

The Department quotes the Food Harvest 2020 report which stated that "any remaining obstacles to partnership formation or other new models of farming should be removed" as its rationale for targeting support for the administrative and legal costs incurred when a new collaborative farming arrangement is being set up.

Research from Teagasc shows that collaborative farming arrangements have a number of benefits, including increased income through additional scale, new ways to access underused land, improved skillsets, and making one-man operations more sociable.


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Registered food production groups with plans to improve market information, product quality, production sustainability and marketing will qualify for new annual grants for workshops, farm visits, publicity and development of centres of food excellence.

Beef and sheep farmers interested in setting up producer groups to market distinctive local products will be grant aided on the costs involved in "developing group dynamic, agreeing specification and control protocols and marketing".


Extra funding is to be channelled into the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme, in tandem with a roll-out of similar schemes across the country.

A statement from the Department of Agriculture said it is proposing to "significantly" expand the scope of the scheme, with applicants already being assessed and ranked according to environmental criteria such as the amount of special areas of conservation and monuments located in the area.

Irish Independent