A Rural Commission
A Rural Commission will gather information over the next eight months on the economic potential of rural Ireland and how best to channel funding and resources between 2013 and 2025.
The commission will examine ‘outside the farm gate’ aspects of economic development in rural areas and will prepare a report by the end of 2013.
According to Teagasc, a jobs strategy for rural Ireland is particularly relevant, because unemployment has increased more in rural areas, particularly in small towns.
"The commission will travel the length and breadth of the country and ask the people of rural Ireland the questions that need to be asked and, more importantly, will listen to their answers, with a view to using the information provided to support rural communities into the future," said Environment Minister Phil Hogan.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said, "I believe that the commission can contribute in a significant and useful way to both identifying and harnessing the specific potential in our rural communities for economic and social development."
Membership of the commission will be drawn from Government departments and State bodies.
It will also draw on expertise from the local authority, local development, third-level education, rural development, agriculture, micro-enterprise, small and medium enterprise, corporate/private, union, community, and financial sectors.
Teagasc will take responsibility for the research and consultation phase of the process.
Professor Cathal O’Donoghue, head of the Teagasc Rural Economy and Development Programme, said, "Farm households have been particularly affected by the downturn, with the off-farm employment rate of farmers falling back to late 1990s levels.
Farm households would thus be one of the main beneficiaries of more jobs in rural areas.
On the other hand, the Food Harvest 2020 strategy for the Agri-Food sector has a target to generate 25,000 new jobs, and thus the sector can make a substantial impact on rural job creation."