Call to use €9m brucellosis control savings on young farmers’ scheme

THE €9 million saved in animal disease control costs “should be invested in young farmers’ installation aid”.

Fine Gael spokesman on food Andrew Doyle, who made the call, welcomed the declaration of brucellosis-free status in Ireland.

There have been no brucellosis cases since 2006 and the savings in costs of disease control are estimated to be over €9m.

Mr Doyle said this saved money should go to the Young Farmers’ Installation Scheme, co-funded by the European Union.

This scheme was suspended by the Department of Agriculture in December 2008, leaving around 500 young farmers high and dry after they had made financial commitments in anticipation of assistance under the scheme.

“Targeted investment in educated, motivated young farmers is good for farming, for the food industry, for jobs and the national coffers,” said Mr Doyle.

“The best young farmers still cannot get set-up loans. This scheme was working to bring new young farmers into farming.

“The average age of farmers in Ireland has increased to over 50. It is time to invest in job creation and economic stimulus schemes.

“Backing the young farmers of Ireland is the best job-creation stimulus package going,” he said.

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association president Malcolm Thompson has meanwhile welcomed the European Commission’s decision to award Ireland brucellosis- free status.

“Farmers look forward to the day when similar progress on TB can be announced,” he said.

Macra na Feirme president Michael Gowing, who also welcomed the decision, urged Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith to take further steps to reduce aspects of the eradication programme.

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