THE possibility of developing an ancillary model of agriculture should be examined by the Government, it was suggested yesterday.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) consists of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation which then becomes the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.
CSA, operated mostly in the US, is usually focused on a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit, sometimes dairy products and meat.
Labour’s agriculture and food spokesperson Sean Sherlock, TD, has urged the Government to consider developing the model in Ireland.
He said two such projects already exist in Bantry, Co Cork, and Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary.
“Such a model is based on co-operation between farmers and families, where families purchase shares in a farm’s harvest,” he said.
“In practical terms this would work where vegetables and fruit are grown at present, or it would allow smaller farmers to diversify to meet local need.”
Mr Sherlock said this concept is tried and tested and has been operational for more than 30 years in the US.
Local farms have an opportunity to provide produce locally to the freshest, safest food supply on the market.
“By purchasing a stakeholding, the consumer gets a percentage of the eventual produce,” he said.
Mr Sherlock said that milk prices are collapsing and small farmers have an uncertain future.
“Given that we are more conscious about preserving jobs, this model could be beneficial to supplement income to farmers,” he said.
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