Welcome to the August issue of the National Rural Network’s monthly newsletter for 2019. This is the newsletter for members of the National Rural Network (NRN) 2016-2020. The goal of the NRN is to inform the broader public and potential beneficiaries about rural development policy and funding opportunities. For more see www.nationalruralnetwork.ie.
The National Rural Network (NRN) is delighted to welcome Dr Teresa Hooks to our team and wish her the best of luck in her new role. Teresa completed a BA International in Geography and French and a Masters of Rural Sustainability at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
Her MA thesis explored the potential of collaborative models of farming in Ireland in helping to sustain family farms, with particular reference to the farm partnership model in the dairy sector. She continued her studies in collaboration in the agricultural sector as a Walsh Fellow PhD candidate based at the Rural Economy and Development Programme (REDP), Teagasc and the Department of Food Business and Development at University College Cork (UCC). Here, she focused on the potential of Producer Organisations, similar to co-operatives, in enhancing viability in the Irish beef sector, given newly introduced legislation.
Following this, Dr Hooks completed a postdoc at the School of Business and the Irish Centre for Applied Research in Geosciences (iCRAG) in University College Dublin (UCD) on the risk perceptions of drinking water quality in Ireland, with a particular focus on private well owners.
Join Us at the Ploughing 2019
Visit the NRN stand at the National Ploughing Championships 2019, which this year is taking place in Ballintrane, Fenagh, Co Carlow from 17-19 September. Once again, we’ll be in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine marquee, stand BB.
Meet the NRN team, join in interactive activities and learn more about how Ireland’s RDP is benefitting farmers and rural communities.
The first national policy for Social Enterprise was launched by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD. Social Enterprises have a core objective of achieving a societal or environmental impact. While they operate like many other businesses by providing goods or services, any surpluses they generate are reinvested into achieving social or environmental impacts. Many social enterprises work to support disadvantaged groups such as the long-term unemployed or people with disabilities, or to address issues such as food poverty or social housing.
According to Minister Ring, this policy “will enable social enterprise to grow in scale, support jobs, and make a positive impact on individuals and communities in both rural and urban areas”. Specifically, the implementation of this policy will help social enterprises achieve these goals by allowing them access to a range of supports, which will enable them to deliver on a number of government policy objectives such as healthcare and social inclusion. Read the full policy details here.
Smart Villages and Rural Towns Seminar Presentations
All guest speaker presentations and a full report on the ‘Smart Villages and Rural Towns’ national seminar held in the Sheraton Hotel Athlone on 4th July 2019 have been added to the NRN website.
The event, entitled ‘Smart Villages and Rural Towns in Ireland: Revitalising Rural Areas through Community-Led Innovation’, was organised and run by the National Rural Network (NRN) and the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) to explore the potential of the EU Action for Smart Villages Initiative here in Ireland, with a particular focus on the key role of the LEADER Programme.
A video of Pat Kennedy’s full presentation on ‘Smart Community Development Planning: Joining the Dots for More Effective Community-Led Development’ at this event can also now be viewed on the eTownz YouTube channel.
All-of-Government Plan to Tackle Climate Disruption Launched
In July, the Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, T.D., launched the All of Government Plan to tackle climate disruption drawing attention to the very challenging but significant commitment by Agriculture as part of this national plan.
The All-of-Government plan sets out a vision and pathway to achieve reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions and make Ireland a better place for generations to come. The contribution from Agriculture to the national ambition is significant and includes not only a commitment to efficiency gains but also carbon sequestration through forestry and management of soils. It identifies opportunities for a contribution to energy production and efficiency.
It is critical that Ireland takes action now, not only because of increasing pressures to meet national obligations, but also to maintain our green credentials which are fundamental to our competitiveness in the agri-food sector.
Image Credit: NRN
Climate Change Advisory Council Annual Report
The annual report of the Climate Change Advisory Council was published on 17th July 2019. The review stated that despite some sectoral reductions, overall greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1.7 million tonnes in 2017. Agriculture features prominently in the report. It outlines the “unique significance of the sector” in Ireland, with emissions steadily increasing 14% since 2011, largely due to increasing dairy cow numbers.
The report recommends an ‘extensification’ process should be included in the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It also suggests cutting the payments to the more intensive farmers and rewarding suckler farmers who opt to reduce numbers. It also states that current afforestation rates are too low.
Image Credit: NRN
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has published recommendations of the Nitrates Expert Group following a review of the Nitrates Derogation. The derogation allows more intensive farmers to operate at a higher stocking rate than stipulated in the Nitrates Directive. Just under 7,000 intensively stocked farmers, with 11% of Irish agricultural area and 20% of bovine livestock, availed of the derogation in 2018 with a similar number availing of the facility in 2019. The current derogation facility will run until the end of 2021.
The recommendations include measures such as:
Compulsory adoption of a farm scale liming programme on derogation farms and on farms with a stocking rate above 170 kgs
Mandatory environmental training
Mandatory use of low emission equipment from 2021
Training on grassland management and recording of Grass Production on farm
Incorporation of Clover in Swards
Land Eligibility Commonage/rough grazing will not be eligible for derogation in 2020
Crude Protein in Concentrate Feeds- A reduction in the crude protein in concentrate feeds for grazing livestock on farms with a grassland stocking rate greater than 170 kg/ha in order to reduce excess protein in animals diets
Biodiversity loss continues in an unprecedented manner and so farmers will be required to implement a biodiversity measure on derogation farms.
LEADER Funding Update Featured in the Irish Farmers Journal
Since its inception in 1991, LEADER has provided both private enterprise and community groups with the resources necessary to actively engage and direct the economic, social development of their local area, through community-led local development. An update on the current LEADER budget allocated to Ireland, funded through the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (RDP), was featured recently in the Irish Farmers Journal.
The article featured insights from Dr Maura Farrell, Lecturer in the Discipline of Geography at NUI Galway and Lead Researcher with the National Rural Network. Over 2000 projects, valued at €69 million have been approved for LEADER funding so far under the
current programme and, with 18 months left to go, there’s still plenty of time to apply!
LEADER Programme 2014-2020 Figures at a Glance
• 180 full-time jobs
• 589 existing jobs sustained
• 2,000 projects approved
• 373 projects in approval pipeline
• €165m funding available
• €69m approved
• Funding applications open until the end of 2020
• To date just under 50% of funding has been allocated.
NRN Storyboards featured in recent ENRD Publication
An article about the impact and success of the Irish NRN’ interactive LEADER and EIP-AGRI Project Storyboard databases is featured in the Spring/Summer 2019 edition of the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) Rural Connections magazine (p.36-37).
The ENRD recognises these Storyboards as a good practice dissemination model to communicate the success of the objectives set out in Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020 on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD).
This ‘one-stop-shop’ map provides rural individuals, businesses and community groups, interested in accessing assistance under the LEADER Programme, with access to information about the Local Development Strategy and geographical coverage of their LAGs and IPs. It also contains relevant contact details, such as email address and phone numbers, as well as links to each of the LAGs’ and IPs’ websites and social media pages.
You can view/download this freely available LAGs and IPs database on the LEADER section of the NRN website: https://www.nationalruralnetwork.ie/leader/local-action-groups/
Image Credit: NRN
Updated LEADER Toolkit
An updated version of the LEADER toolkit, now available on the ENRD website, provides information for both local actors and Managing Authorities.
The toolkit serves as a guidebook for beginners and a reference source and check list for more advanced users. It is ‘fit for purpose’ for the 2014-2020 programming period, containing the most recent updates in guidance and changes to the Regulations.
Approximately 40 LEADER cooperation projects are currently featured on the ENRD database and seek partners to cooperate with. The LEADER Cooperation Scheme is designed to encourage rural areas to work together on joint projects with mutual benefits for each participating area. Cooperation is a partnership between LAGs, but the partnership can also involve non-LEADER groups.
Cooperation offers recently added to the ENRD database include projects based in France, Lithuania, Romania and Finland. Details of projects and offering LAGs are available on the ENRD database.
Morawskie Wrota LAG (Poland) Seeking LEADER Cooperation Partners for Ecological Project
Morawskie Wrota LAG in Poland is seeking LEADER cooperation partners for a project aiming to build pro-ecological attitudes towards the inhabitants of rural areas. It is directed at residents of areas covered by the LEADER programme, especially for people living in single-family households and farmers. It is also envisioned that representatives of local institutions, entrepreneurs, as well as young people and children, will be involved in the activities.
Five new videos related to the LEADER Programme 2014-2020 across the EU have been added to the LEADER themed video channel on the NRN website.
The NRN would like to sincerely thank the Welsh National Rural Network, the Rural Youth Project, CARE and the Digital Single Market – European Commission for the use of their content.
Since its inception in 1991, LEADER has provided both private enterprise and community groups throughout Europe with the resources necessary to actively engage and direct the economic and social development of their local area, through community-led local development.
Image Credit: NRN
ENRD Smart Villages Publications
Smart Villages, and Smart Rural Towns, in an Irish context, are rural areas and communities that build on and enhance their existing strengths and assets through creative thinking and by embracing innovation to create desirable places for rural people to live and work. The European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) has published four briefings developed by the ENRD Thematic Group on Smart Villages. These briefings have orientations to support policy-makers and implementers in creating an enabling policy framework for Smart Villages.
The first briefing clarifies the aims, scope and focus of Smart Villages Strategies as well as possible strategic frameworks for supporting them. The other briefings are related to specific policy instruments that could be used to support Smart Villages on the ground now and in the future, such as LEADER, Cooperation and CAP digital strategies.
For more information on the ‘Smart Villages’ initiative, please visit the ENRD Smart Villages Portal to discover a plethora of inspiring networks and initiatives across the EU.
Image Credit: NRN
Source: ENRD and NRN
Irish EIP-AGRI Operational Group Projects
Case studies of all 23 Irish EIP-AGRI Operational Groups, successfully selected by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), can be found in the EIP-AGRI section of the NRN website.
These case studies detail the main aims, objectives, activities and background of each of the successful EIP-AGRI projects. Each project is also featured in the NRN’s interactive Storyboard of EIP-AGRI Operational Groups throughout Ireland. The content was designed and produced by the NRN team at NUI Galway to disseminate and promote the Irish projects nationally and internationally. You can view the Storyboard on the NRN website.
The European Innovation Partnership for Agriculture Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRI) was launched in 2012 to contribute to the EU’s ‘Europe 2020 Strategy’ of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Five new EIP-AGRI videos have recently been added to the EIP-AGRI themed video database on the NRN website.
These videos will be of interest to farmers, agricultural advisors, rural communities and those interested in rural development and who are passionate about the future of farming and the environment in their local communities.
Sincere thanks to the EIP-AGRI Service Point, Landsbygdsnätverket, the Welsh Government and the Digital Single Market – European Commission for the use of their content to help maximize the success of the objectives set out in the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020 here in Ireland.
Image Credit: NRN
Biorefinery Glas EIP-AGRI Project Demonstration Day
The Biorefinery Glas Project EIP-AGRI Operational Group held a very successful, and well attended, Farm Bioeconomy Demonstration Day at Shinagh Estates Farm, Bandon, Co. Cork on 11th July 2019. Dr Shane Conway (NUIG/NRN) represented the NRN at this event attended by over 200 participants.
Attendees were given a unique opportunity to see a live demonstration of the biorefinery in operation at the event, and also to meet with key personnel in the bioeconomy realm. Images from this demonstration day can be found on the NRN’s Facebook page.
The NRN would like to sincere thanks to the project’s lead partner James Gaffey, Principal Investigator in Bioeconomy at IT Tralee, for including the NRN’s EIP-AGRI leaflets and infographics within the demonstration day information pack disseminated to those in attendance.
More information on this project as well as about the 22 other Irish EIP-AGRI projects funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 can be found in the EIP-AGRI Operational Group booklet produced by the NRN on behalf of the DAFM.
Image Credit: NRN
August 2019 EIP-AGRI Newsletter
The August 2019 edition of the European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRI) Service Point monthly newsletter (Edition 72) on agriculture and innovation is now available online. This newsletter contains a wide range of material regarding innovation in agriculture, forestry and horticulture in Europe such as inspirational EIP-AGRI ideas as well as information about EIP-AGRI service point activities, relevant funding opportunities and networking possibilities. Read the newsletter here: www.tinyurl.com/y36fx8jz.
If you are interested in receiving regular updates about recent EIP-AGRI publications and initiatives, please join the EIP-AGRI Network by registering with them on their website.
Source: EIP-AGRI Service Point and NRN
Recent Generational Renewal in Agriculture Publication
Globally the policy mantra about the survival, continuity and future prosperity of the agricultural sector, the traditional family farm model and broader sustainability of rural society seems ultimately to depend on an age-diverse farming population. Research carried out by the NRN team at NUI Galway, Dr Shane Conway and Dr Maura Farrell on the topic of ‘Generational Renewal in Agriculture’, specifically as it relates to the senior generation of the farming community, has recently been published in the International Journal of Agricultural Management.
The recommendations set forth in this paper are aimed at allowing older farmers to maintain and sustain existing activities and daily routines on their farms in later life, whilst also ‘releasing the reins’ to allow for the necessary delegation of managerial responsibilities and ownership of the family farm to their successors, in order for generational renewal to occur. The recent declaration by European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, that a priority for future CAP reforms must focus on the concept of generational renewal, highlights the significance of this field of research. Read more on the NRN website.
Image Credit: NRN
New ‘Young Farmers’ Videos on NRN Website
Five new videos about ‘Young Farmers’ have been added to the farm viability and competitiveness themed video database on the NRN website. The NRN would like to thank Saturn Farms, EU Reporter, France 24 and the European Investment Bank for the use of their content. Their input has significantly contributed to our video database aimed at inspiring people in the farming community and rural areas to maximize the success of the objectives set out in the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.
Image Credit: NRN
NUI Galway Researchers to Support Rural Regeneration in New EU Project
A new four-year European project aims to develop knowledge and support policy making to help answer some of the challenges facing rural areas and support rural regeneration. Funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme, the RURALIZATION project started in May 2019. Rural areas face constraints, such as related to depopulation and the transition from reliance on primary sectors, such as farming and forestry.
Over the next four years RURALIZATION will work to develop knowledge and support policy making in answering some of these challenges. In particular the project will improve understanding of rural regeneration looking at the issues of access to land, new entrants into farming and rural areas. It will define instruments and strategies to facilitate rural generational renewal. The project will also use innovative methods to assess the dreams of youth for rural futures, which will then feed into a proposed set of renewed policy options.
Two Irish organisations, NUI Galway and Teagasc, are among the partnership of 18 organisations involved across 12 European countries. At NUI Galway, Dr Maura Farrell who is also Lead Researcher with the NRN, heads up the project team (Dr Aisling Murtagh, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Dr Marie Mahon, Dr Therese Conway, Dr John McDonagh and Dr Shane Conway) within the Rural Studies Cluster at the Discipline of Geography.
The WaterMARKE project was initiated in response to the need for the intensification of agriculture to be sustainable, dealing specifically with the issue of water quality. It is jointly funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).
The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. The National Rural Network is one of the partners involved in this project. Working closely with the Agricultural Sustainability Support Advisers (ASSAP), who are providing advice and support to farms in areas where there are water quality issues, the WaterMARKE project will develop operational guidelines for farmers, advisors and policy makers for the successful implementation of risk assessment water quality measures at farm scale.
An underpinning objective is to identify ‘win-win’ measures where economic (e.g. farm incomes) and environmental (e.g. improved water quality) outcomes do not come into conflict, with water quality improved on farms with the lowest cost. It will:
Develop a farm-scale risk assessment to select measures for water quality protection
Identify barriers to adoption of water quality protection measures
Using the ‘right measure, right place, right time’ approach to design a knowledge exchange template for water quality protection measures
Evaluate options to scale up the implementation of water quality protection measures beyond the pilot case study farms
At a national scale, the project examines the roles and interactions of all the actors (institutions) involved in the agri-food production value chain, in order to examine how the information flows and the structure of future programmes could be improved to facilitate further sustainable development and intensification of Irish agriculture.
Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, has recently published its ‘TResearch Summer 2019’ quarterly magazine.
This publication aims to disseminate the results of the organisation’s research to a broad audience and can be read/downloaded for free here.
July-August Edition of Today’s Farm Magazine
The July-August edition of Teagasc’s ‘Today’s Farm’ bi-monthly magazine is available online. This publication addresses a wide range of topics of interest to farmers, people living in the countryside, and those with an interest in environmental issues and all aspects of agriculture and food production.
This monthly magazine is aimed at Irish dairy, beef, tillage, and sheep farmers, as well as contractors and key agri-business people. It provides readers with information on the latest innovations and technical advances in the agricultural sector in addition to other stories of interest affecting not only the Irish agricultural industry, but also wider European and international issues.
European Landowners’ Organization (ELO) CountrySide Magazine
Created in 1972, the ELO, is a unique federation of national associations from the EU28 based in Brussels, which represents the interests of the landowners, land managers, rural entrepreneurs and family businesses at the European political level. The organization contributes to close cooperation between rural communities, and in doing so aims to counter the challenges of rural depopulation brought about by urbanization and globalisation. A ‘Generational Renewal in Agriculture’ case study carried out by the NRN team at NUI Galway with Leo Morrissey from Garrafine, Ballymacward, Co. Galway was previously featured in the September-October 2018 edition of the ELO Magazine (p.14-15). Please see: https://www.europeanlandowners.org/…/CS_Magazi…/CS177_GB.pdf
National Workshop on Smart Farming and Data Analytics
The NRN attended the first National Workshop on Smart Farming and Data Analytics, which took place on 12th June in the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM). Smart Farming is the use of digital technology in farming and this event aimed to show how Smart Farming together with Data Analytics can enhance farmers existing knowledge and equip them to make better decisions at farm-level.
Key note speakers included Prof. Thia Hennessy and Mr. Darragh McCullough and they outlined how Smart Farming can help tackle some of the grand challenges facing agriculture. Read some presentations from the event.
For more information on Smart Farming and Data Analytics, check out the NRN blog.
Image Credit: NUIM
Workshop on Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Lisbon, Portugal. 10 September 2019.
The event will provide the opportunity to know more about the potential for financial instruments co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) to support initiatives and enterprises with measurable social impact. https://tinyurl.com/y6qlrgst
LINC Conference 2019. Pärnu,Estonia. 10-12 September 2019.
The 2019 edition of the LEADER-Inspired Network Community (LINC) conference will gather Local Action Groups, National Rural Networks, and other practitioners to discuss and exchange experience around innovative LEADER practices. https://tinyurl.com/y6fz5mnx
World Bioeconomy Forum. Ruka, Finland.11-13 September 2019.
The World BioEconomy Forum seeks to inspire public and private sector bioeconomy stakeholders to explore innovative ways of harnessing the unique bio-resources of Europe’s northern region in pursuit of a sustainable and economically meaningful northern bioeconomy. www.wcbef.com/
ASA Annual Conference and Banquet. Kilkenny. 12-13 September 2019
The 77th annual conference of the Agricultural Science Association will comprise of a number of engaging panel discussions, presentations and interviews featuring prominent agri-industry experts. tinyurl.com/y3ayf48g
European Day of Sustainable Communities. EU Member States. 21 September 2019.
The European Day of Sustainable Communities is a celebration of local communities taking action for a zero-carbon, regenerative and inclusive Europe. All communities and citizens who are catalysing transformation in the face of ecological and climate breakdown are invited to become co-creators of the day. www.sustainable-communities.net/
OECD-Rural Development Conference. Seoul, Korea. 24-26 September 2019.
How can policies raise well-being in rural areas? The 12th OECD Rural Development Conference aims to tackles how policies can raise well-being in rural areas by examining the multiple aspects including role of innovation and digitalisation in revitalising rural communities. https://tinyurl.com/y6dyt9n8
Farmers Market Training for Organic Producers. Athy, Co. Kildare. 1 October 2019.
Bord Bia is host a of skills workshops designed for producers who are selling or wish to sell at Farmers Markets. tinyurl.com/yy4cdwj8
Environment Ireland. Croke Park, Dublin. 2 October 2019.
Ireland’s major environmental policy and management conference, organised in association with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. www.environmentireland.ie/
Appraising Intervention Strategies Under The CAP: Experiences And Outlook’. Rome, Italy. 15-16 October 2019.
Organised by the ENRD Evaluation Helpdesk, this good practice workshop aims to provide a forum to discuss and learn lessons, exchange on key principles for the appraisal of the intervention strategy and identify challenges and needs for the appraisal of the intervention strategy of the CAP Strategic Plan. https://tinyurl.com/y3hm9ay7
Burren Winterage Weekend 2019, Lisdoonvarna and Doolin, Co. Clare. 24-27 October 2019.
This weekend is a celebration of the traditional farming practices of the Burren. www.burrenwinterage.com/
MEET THE TEAM
The National Rural Network (NRN) Consortium Coordination Group: (front row) Seamus Boland, Maria Pettit, James Claffey; (second row) Tony Ward, Deirdre Garvey, Dr Therese Conway, Freda Salley; (third row) Johnny Sheehan, Gert Ackermann, Maria O’Gorman, Dr Maura Farrell; (back row) Philip Farrelly, Billy Murphy. Not pictured: Aoife Smith, Dr Shane Conway and Dr Teresa Hooks.