New strategy unveiled for Mayo's €500m farming sector
A roadmap for Mayo farming aims to improve farm incomes and maximise the sustainable contribution of agriculture to the county's economy.
Farming is estimated to be worth more than €500 million to Mayo’s economy and directly employs 13,500 people.
These are the two of the standout findings from a major study of farming in the county, which was launched last week by Mayo Co Council.
The study, entitled ‘A Sustainable Agricultural Strategy for Mayo’, is a comprehensive analysis of Mayo’s farming sector that aims to provide a road-map for the future development of the industry in the county.
The pioneering work, the first of its kind nationally, highlights the contribution that agriculture makes to the Mayo economy, with the income from the farm sector put at €128 million, and farm output at an estimated €250 million.
“The purpose of the strategy is to set out a series of actions that will guide the sector to capitalise on its opportunities and overcome the barriers to developing this significant component of the Mayo economy,” Mayo Co Council stated.
It added that the strategy aimed to help:
- Improve farm incomes in the long-term;
- Maximise the value of all food produced;
- Ensure farmers are encouraged to play a key role in the county’s future development;
- Support continued investment in the sector;
- Ensure sustainability from an environmental perspective.
The document identifies the challenges and opportunities facing each of the traditional farming enterprises in the county – beef, sheep and dairy – together with evaluating how the less-developed areas such as forestry, agri- tourism, renewable energy and high nature value farming might be better supported and developed.
Councillor Michael Smith, chair of the Mayo Agricultural Working Group, thanked Teagasc, the Department of Agriculture, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the IFA and INHFA for their contributions and efforts in devising the strategy. He said the study’s publication was a timely acknowledgement of farming’s importance to Mayo’s wider economy.
Veteran farm leader and county councillor, Michael Holmes, said the launch of the strategy was personally satisfying as it confirmed that farming remained the most important economic activity in Mayo.
These sentiments were echoed by well-known dairy farmer Kevin Moran. The Mayo native, who farms in north Galway, told the audience that Ireland’s farmers had to be both “ethically” and “environmentally” sustainable.