This year’s Rural Agency Surveying Professional Group Seminar, entitled ‘Farming into the Future’, took place in the Radisson Blu, Athlone, in November.
Solar farms, milk prices and the profitability of Irish farming were among the many issues discussed at the seminar, which was attended by over 70 Chartered Rural Surveyors from across the country.
At the Seminar, Mairead McGuinness MEP warned that migration, budgetary pressures and the upcoming UK referendum on EU membership all pose significant challenges to the European Union.
She said 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 on EU membership is hugely important for Irish agriculture because if the UK votes to leave it will raise huge concerns for our 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 that 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% 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 Dr Thia Hennessy, Head of the Agricultural Economics and Farm Surveys Department at Teagasc, Mike Taylor of the RICS Rural Board, Justin McCarthy, Editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, and Patrick Shine, Chartered Geomatics Surveyor.