Jobs initiative must support primary agriculture and the agri-food sector
IFA President John Bryan has stated that the Government’s upcoming ‘Jobs Initiative’ must support primary agriculture and the labour-intensive agri-food sector.
Mr Bryan says that export figures for early 2011 show that, as with 2010, the agri-food and drinks sector is outperforming the general economy.
“While exports have risen by 6 per cent in the first two months of the year, food and drink exports have increased by 18 per cent,” he said.
He continued, “the primary sector can best be supported through the farm schemes, which drive production and support farm incomes. Farming is the economic backbone of rural towns and villages and increased output at farmgate level underpins the creation of jobs in the processing, marketing, tourism and retail industries.”
The IFA has identified further initiatives that will increase competitiveness and introduce additional opportunities for job creation at farm level and in the agri-food sector:
They include: The reduction of the lower PRSI rate and reform of the ERO/ REA system to reduce employment costs, restore competitiveness and increase agricultural employment, particularly in the labour intensive horticulture, pigmeat and poultry sectors.
The development of a National Mobilisation programme for the forestry sector, requiring an annual afforestation programme of 15,000 hectares; increased funding to support construction of essential forest road infrastructure; support for the adoption of more suitable harvesting equipment for small-scale forestry; and enhanced training for forest owners.
Investment in Graduate Training programmes for the agri-food sector - identified as an industry requirement in the Forfas publication on the Future Skills Requirements of the Food and Beverage Sector.
And finally, investment in renewable energy programmes, including creation of a dedicated Green Energy Unit to coordinate stakeholder delivery of renewable energy targets, publication of a coherent bioenergy roadmap, provision of sustainable REFIT tariffs and introduction of a Biomass Public Procurement policy.