Thursday, September 20, 2012

Neglect of Rural Wexford affects us all - Kelly

Successive Irish governments have neglected the agriculture sector and rural communities of County Wexford for many years now according to Cllr Anthony Kelly.  Speaking ahead of this week's National Ploughing Championships, the Sinn Féin rep outlined his party's plan for investment in rural Wexford.

Cllr Kelly said;

"Wexford agriculture and rural communities have been neglected by successive governments over the years.  Despite pre election promises our rural communities are being neglected under this government just as they were neglected under the Fianna Fail and Green Party government.  This neglect affects us all; every man, woman and child in this county regardless of whether you live in a town or on a farm."

"Wexford has always been a county with a big agri presence.  The most recent census of agriculture taken in 2010 found that there were 4,424 farms in County Wexford.  According to the 2010 National Farm Survey commissioned by Teagasc the average income for these farms was €17,771 per annum.  To put this in comparison with other sectors, the average industrial wage in this state is currently €35,486.88 per annum."

"Clearly Farming in this county has been neglected despite the huge benefits which it provides for our economy.  The IFA estimates that farmers and farm families spend €8 billion per year in our economy.  It’s thought that 300,000 jobs are supported by the agriculture, food and related industries.  For every €100 of agriculture output there is a further €73 of output to the wider economy.  71% of raw materials used by our agri and fishing industries are sourced in the domestic market."

"Sinn Féin is committed to protecting the rural way of life and to keeping as many people on the land as possible.  It is estimated that with current population trends global food production will have to been increased by up to 70% in the coming decades.  Ireland has the potential to produce food for up to 36 million people."

"We need to invest in our rural communities now in view of the huge benefits that real sustainable investment will bring.  The revitalisation of the Irish Sugar Beet industry could see the creation of 5000 jobs through the construction of a new bio-refinery plant.  The immediate reduction in excise duties on fuel would not only benefit hard hit farmers and agri contractors, but also ordinary families struggling to commute."

"The EU LEADER fund could and should be used as the vehicle for a stimulus for rural wexford.  Grants should be made readily available for the restoration of old farm buildings for tourism purposes; the development of open farms and traditional farm craft centres; the launch of cottage industries creating home produce speciality food products; and the setting up of more farm shops selling and sourcing locally grown foods and manufactured products."

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