asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food, in view of the fact that primary and secondary agricultural jobs continue to decline and further rationalisation is immiment at all levels, the plans he has to arrest the position of job losses in agriculture.
Written Answers. - Job Losses in Agriculture.
Employment in agriculture accounts for nearly 14 per cent of the workforce which is quite high by EC standards where the figure is closer to 8 per cent. Some decline may therefore be anticipated but traditional agriculture will continue to play an important role in providing employment. In this context, the National Development Plan contains a number of measures to sustain employment levels in the agricultural and rural economy involving expenditing of £1.4 billion over the next five years, of which close to £0.7 billion will be provided by the EC. Additional resources will be provided for on-farm investment, an increase in headage payments, and diversification of production. The national plan envisages additional financial support for the IDA/Department of Agriculture and Food strategy for the food and drink industry, which provides for job creation of the order of 5,000 new jobs. the plan also provides for investment in rural tourism. The experience gained from the operation of the integrated rural development pilot programme will be built upon to launch initiatives on a wider scale which will assist in the provision of jobs and wealth creation in rural Ireland.
In addition to these measures which will be assisted from the FEOGA Guidance Fund, agriculture and the rural economy in general will benefit from measures in the plan which will be assisted by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund.