IFA President Eddie Downey has said that securing funding for the Rural Development Programme in Budget 2015 will be a key focus for IFA during the National Ploughing Championships next week.

The IFA President said: “The National Ploughing Championships is a fantastic display of the importance of agriculture to families and communities throughout Ireland. In this crucial pre-budget period, the IFA is concentrated on securing funding for farm schemes under the Rural Development Programme in Budget 2015. These schemes are of critical importance to farm families and underpin agriculture’s continued contribution to the economic recovery.”

Eddie Downey said Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must fight for the allocation of €500m plus of funding for RDP farm schemes in the Budget at the Cabinet table in the coming weeks. “This funding will be critical to ensure the opening of the GLAS scheme, with payments in 2015, full payment of the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, discussion group funding and funding for on-farm investment across all sectors through the TAMS,” he said.

“The role that agriculture plays in the Irish economy and on a local basis is of huge importance, providing employment and generating output not just in farming itself but in the thousands of regionally based jobs dependent on and linked to the sector. This contribution must be supported in Budget 2015,” Downey insisted.

IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said: “Despite its strong economic contribution, the agriculture sector remains a low-income sector, with many farmers, particularly in the livestock, tillage and potato sectors experiencing a very difficult 2014. The Government must show its commitment to the restoration of a viable rural economy by ensuring adequate support funding is allocated in this year’s Budget.”

The IFA will be at Stand 320, Row 22, Block 3 at this year’s Ploughing Championships, where President Eddie Downey, elected officers and key support staff will be available to speak with members and to discuss IFA campaigns. The full range of IFA member benefits and services will also be on display.

On Tuesday, IFA will launch a new theft prevention initiative for farmers in association with the Garda Síochána. The IFA Theft Stop initiative provides farmers with a unique security ID to mark machines and equipment. This security ID then functions as a deterrent to theft and assists in the identification of stolen items.

Visitors can also stop by the IFA stand to see demonstrations of IFA Connect – IFA’s digital programme, which aims to educate farmers through digital means to enable them to realise efficiencies in their farm business.

Also on display at the IFA stand will be the IFA’s new Forest Assessor service. Forest Assessor utilises the most up-to-date technology to accurately predict the quantities of log products that each tree can produce and their potential value.