EU Agriculture Ministers Call for Solutions to Attract Young People to Rural Areas
EU agriculture ministers have called for solutions aimed at attracting young people, including young farmers, to rural areas. The issue of generational renewal and the negative impact of demographic changes on rural areas, including depopulation, have been addressed by ministers. Facilitating young people’s access to funding and land, providing work and training opportunities, and involvement in local decision-making have been proposed by ministers. The council of ministers agreed on a long-term vision aimed at creating stronger, connected, resilient, and prosperous rural communities in the EU by 2040. Member states have been encouraged to further develop strategies to the benefit of rural areas and communities during a council meeting yesterday (Monday, November 20).
Rural areas across the EU make “key contributions” to the economic strength of the EU, the green and digital transitions, and climate action, the council said in its agreed conclusion. The role of rural areas in ensuring sustainability and food security, and in preserving the cultural heritage of local communities has been highlighted by the ministers. The council considers it a “priority” to further build agricultural, forestry, and rural resilience to face demographic, economic, climate, and environmental challenges. The conclusion stresses the importance of agriculture, including in terms of ensuring the open strategic autonomy of the EU’s food systems, and reducing external dependencies. Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue described farmers, fishers, and foresters as the “bedrock of the rural economy”. Speaking at the council meeting, the minister said that European farmers face ongoing challenges to provide food while ensuring environmental sustainability. “We must ensure that the vital role played by farmers, fishers, and foresters as the bedrock of the rural economy is recognised as we develop policies for rural areas. They are at the heart of rural and coastal communities,” Minister McConalogue said while highlighting the need for all EU policies to support rural communities.
Further challenges including gender gaps, limited connectivity, underdeveloped infrastructure or a lack of adequate employment opportunities are also highlighted in the text. The council considers that supporting measures are needed to help create new work opportunities, including in farming, and better involve women in decision-making. Ministers stressed the importance of local action groups within the LEADER initiative and the “bottom-up” approach when implementing community-led local development strategies. In terms of the digital transition, innovation and connectivity, including broadband coverage, EU agriculture ministers said that training opportunities are “crucial”. The importance of investments from EU, national, regional, and local sources for realising this long-term vision has been recognised during the meeting. The conclusions provide political guidance to the European Commission and member states on their future actions in support of rural areas.
Jackie Cahill Calls for Action on Loose Horses Following Road Accident
The chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Jackie Cahill, is calling for loose, unidentified horses to be controlled. The Fianna Fáil TD said these animals are posing a danger to road users around the country. He made the comments following a serious road accident today (Tuesday, November 21) near Littleton in north Tipperary involving a loose horse. Cahill said that the incident resulted in the motorist being hospitalized after their car hit the horse. “My thoughts are with the injured person and I hope they will make a full recovery,” he said.
However, Deputy Cahill said that this was “an accident waiting to happen” as there are “hundreds of horses roaming around the Bord na Móna bogs in Littleton”. “Tipperary County Council have been alerted to this on many occasions but there are significant resource issues in relation to dealing with the amount of horses involved here. Questions must now be asked about whether this horse was microchipped. There is longstanding legislation in this country which creates an obligation for all horses to be microchipped, and the horses in Littleton are certainly no exception to this law,” he said. Cahill said he doubts that the vast majority of these horses can be identified. “I am seeking clarity from An Garda Síochána on whether the horse involved in today’s accident was microchipped,” he said. The Tipperary TD is also contacting Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue to ask what measures are being taken to ensure that loose horses around the country are controlled and identified. “As chairperson of the Oireachtas agriculture committee, I will be inviting officials from the department of agriculture to appear before our committee to answer questions on how they intend to control compliance in this area and uphold the welfare of all horses in this country,” Cahill said.