BIG SURGE IN POSITIVITY FOR EURO FARMERS
Slow pace of hiring in rural social scheme slammed
EUROPEAN farmers are more upbeat about their current and future economic prospects, according to a survey by EU farming federation Copa Cogeca.
The twice-yearly survey of more than 8,000 farmers in 10 EU countries (not including Ireland) turned positive in the first quarter of this year, after tumbling to historic lows in 2016.
The survey points to relatively stable food prices since the second half of 2016, “modest growth” in milk production, along with “sustained” demand, and buoyant meat (except pig meat) exports.
However, it said extreme weather could hit food prices during the growing season, with cereal prices already down as a result of heatwaves across much of Europe in 2017. Farming Independent DELAYS in filling 500 additional places on the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) have been slammed by the INHFA.
The extra posts on the scheme were announced last autumn in Budget 2017. However, the Department of Social Protection admitted that just over 100 positions have been filled in the scheme so far.
The INHFA expressed alarm at the slow pace of recruitment and the farm body called on the Government to honour their commitment to deliver all 500 places on the scheme.
INHFA’s Brendan O’Malley said the scheme was essential for rural communities as it provided employment and a means of ensuring that vital work on many public and community projects was completed.
The RSS is open to full-time farmers and fishermen who qualify for Farm Assist, and offers part-time employment opportunities in community and voluntary organisations.
Participants get a top-up on their usual social welfare entitlements and are paid a minimum of €215.50 per week.
Although 3,100 places are now available on the scheme, the Department of Social Protection admitted that 383 of the 500 additional places remained to be filled.
A Department statement pointed out that recruitment for the scheme was the responsibility of 35 Local Development Companies, and Údarás na Gaeltachta in the Gaeltacht areas. It said the parties involved were determined that all remaining places would be “rolled out as quickly as possible”.