MEP speaks on future challenges to agriculture at surveying seminar

The Rural Agency Surveying Professional Group (part of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland - SCSI - ) held its annual seminar at the Radisson Blu Hotel Athlone on Friday, November 13. MEP Mairead McGuinness was an invited speaker at the event, where solar farms, land prices, and land mobility were among the many issues discussed.

More than 70 rural agency surveyors from across the country attended, and heard the MEP state that for agriculture, the future will require a renewed emphasis on new markets outside the EU and enhanced productivity to meet the challenge of sustainable food production.

Ms McGuinness, who is MEP for Midlands/North-West and vice president of the European Parliament, also warned that the outcome of the UK referendum is hugely important for Irish agriculture, because if the UK votes to leave it will raise huge concerns for Ireland’s food exports.

The president of the SCSI, Andrew Nugent, said that while the removal of milk quotas after 31 years presented a great opportunity for expansion in milk production, challenges remained: “In addition to the uncertainty caused by the UK referendum, the lack of lending finance to farmers will limit opportunities for growth, while greenhouse gas emissions and Ireland’s commitments under the Kyoto Protocol are issues which will have to be assessed and monitored,” he said.

Speaking on tax incentives introduced in the recent Budget, Eddie Downey, president of the Irish Farmers Association, said: “According to a recent survey of farmers by the Department of Agriculture, 27 per cent of farmers are in long-term leases and two thirds of these are in long-term leases for the first time. This is a very positive step for future access to farm land.”

Other speakers at the seminar included Thia Hennessy, head of the Agricultural Economics and Farm Surveys Department at Teagasc; Mike Taylor, RICS Rural Board; Justin McCarthy, editor of the Irish Farmers Journal; and Patrick Shine, chartered geomatics surveyor.

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