Broadband still value for money even if only 10pc of farmers use it - Bruton

Richard Bruton: Responded to criticism of the broadband plan. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Richard Bruton: Responded to criticism of the broadband plan. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Even in the worst case scenario – if just 10pc of farmers use the technology - it would still be worth the massive sums the Government is investing, Communications Minister Richard Bruton has claimed.

The worst-case scenario in the Government's cost-benefit analysis of the National Broadband Plan assumed that just 10pc of farmers adopt digital technology to improve the operation of their works.

However, Minister Bruton said even in this scenario which would also see a small proportion of sole traders using digital technology and a low assumption about the job creation, the benefits still exceed the cost by 30pc.

The analysis completed by PWC and published by the Department of Communications following the announcement of the Government’s €3bn plan estimated to deliver farm enterprise benefits of €186m over a 25-year period. In its best case, scenario benefits exceeded €650m.

It found that the main driver of this benefit is the impact of productivity through the adoption of smart/precision farming techniques by a small number of more progressive farmers.

However, PWC said that only a small number of farmers will make use of the techniques involved in smart or precision farming. In its base case scenario just 10pc of farmers would use these techniques.

It also said given this farming technique is relatively transformative in nature, it assumed that none of the small share of farmers who adopt this farming method will realise the full value of the benefits until five years after first-time availability of better broadband services.

The Government has said that the number of farms in the intervention area totals 55,804 which accounts for 68pc of farms nationally.

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Other factors that drive the benefit include time savings due to remote monitoring and self-service administrative savings from Single Farm Applications (SFPs), which as of 2018, can no longer be filled out via hard copy, and instead must be submitted online.

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