IFA Countryside Chairman Brian Rushe said the Rural Development Policy announced by the Government today must be implemented.
“Much of what is contained in the report about farming and food is already in train, or refers to commitments that have been made before, but have yet to be implemented,” he said.
“It does acknowledge the central role played by the agri-food sector outside of the main cities. For the sector to maintain its contribution, the Government has to pursue policies that allow it to grow,” he said.
Mr Rushe said the report raises valid aspirations about what’s needed to develop the economy on a regional basis, but it contains initiatives which are re-heated.
“For example, the single biggest barrier to making rural communities more attractive places to live and work is the lack of broadband. Unless this is rectified, it remains very difficult for families in rural areas to function,” he said.
The same applies to other services – roads, transport, banking – which require upgrading if they’re to be fit for purpose.
The IFA President said the recent announcement about the closure of bank branches runs counter to the plan to have vibrant rural communities.