Creed rolls out advisors to work with farmers on water quality

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has announced a new Government project that will see ‘Agricultural Sustainability Advisors’ working with farmers on water quality.

The minister claimed that the purpose of the initiative is to “achieve better on-farm environmental standards”, and to encourage sustainable farming.

But the main focus of the programme is, according to the department, water quality and making sure that Irish waters meet their European Union targets.

The Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) is a result of the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland, which shows that agricultural activities are a factor in over 50% of the waters in Ireland that are in danger of not meeting ecological targets.

Commenting on the aims for the programme, Minister Creed claimed: “This initiative will support a free, one-to-one sustainability advisory service to more than 5,000 farmers, so as to encourage behavioural change, facilitate knowledge transfer and achieve better on-farm environmental outcomes.”

The plan, supported by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, as well as Dairy Industry Ireland, will see 30 such advisors working with farmers nationwide.

Of the 30 new Agricultural Sustainability Advisors assigned to the programme, 20 are located in Teagasc, while 10 – who have undergone the same programme of training – will operate within the dairy processors’ organisational structures.

Pat Murphy, current chair of Dairy Industry Ireland, echoed the minister’s statements, saying: “The Dairy industry is committed to sustainable production and our commitment to the programme is evidence of this.

“It is critical that dairy production enhances its current positive image and delivers on its sustainable objectives,” he added.