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Ferris: Teagasc cuts harm future of Irish farming

25 November, 2004

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture and Food, Martin Ferris TD, has called on the Government to ensure that there is adequate funding made available for agricultural research so that Irish farmers are equipped to cope with the changes and opportunities arising within the reformed Common Agricultural Policy. Deputy Ferris, speaking on a motion on the Estimates, again condemned the closure of the Teagasc centre at Ballinamore.

Deputy Ferris said:

"From an agricultural perspective, the most striking thing about the Estimates is the ongoing failure to adequately fund Teagasc. The cuts implemented last year have already had serious consequences for a number of research centres which have been closed down, and we can only assume that there will be more on the way.

"Last week we witnessed another consequence of this with the moving of employees from the Teagasc dairy farm at Ballinamore to Ballyhaise. Ballinamore was fulfilling an important unique role in research into farming conditions in the North West. It's closure says a lot not only about this Government's penny pinching in an important area of agricultural research, but also about it's attitude to the future of farming in disadvantaged areas.

"The closure and downgrading of other centres will have a similarly detrimental effect on the ability of Irish farmers to adapt themselves to the future. It is vital that in the new scenario created by the Single Farm Payment that Irish agriculture is resourced with the most up to date research to take advantage of the opportunities that they are being told exist.

"There is little point in the Department advising farmers that they should be moving into new production systems if the necessary research and technical information is not available. We are often reminded of the role which research and development played in the economic growth of the past decade. There are similar opportunities in agriculture and related areas so it would be disastrous if the state was at this time continue to downgrade Teagasc."ENDS

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