April 11: O’Donovan - agriculture college investment essential

A plea for more resources for Pallaskenry Agricultural College was made in the Dáil by Limerick Fine Gael Deputy Patrick O’Donovan.

A plea for more resources for Pallaskenry Agricultural College was made in the Dáil by Limerick Fine Gael Deputy Patrick O’Donovan.

Speaking during a debate on the dairy industry he said for many generations it had provided a top-quality education to young farmers and those taking on the family farm at home.

“More investment is needed in respect of teaching staff, which never have been busier and the colleges have never had such numbers or the clamour to get into them as exists at present,” he said.

“This is a good thing because it ensures the next generation of young people will stay at home and will play an active role in their communities socially, culturally or politically.

“However, the agricultural colleges must be resourced and assisted. I appreciate there are resource constraints within the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Teagasc but the agricultural colleges around the country should be acknowledged.

“My colleague, Deputy Connaughton, is in a similar situation and these colleges have provided a terrific level of service and should be acknowledged.

“We need to bear in mind, however, that in recent budgets the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, has been to the fore in ensuring that Irish agriculture takes a central role in Government policy on rebuilding the country’s recovery, together with industries like tourism,” he said.

“In my own constituency, there is a plant in Askeaton, County Limerick, that is close to being the number one producer of infant formula derived from Irish milk,” he said.

“That is the future for the dairy sector and family farms that can produce added-value products for the emerging populations of China, India and Africa.

“In the latter continent, we are inclined to overlook the fact that there is a burgeoning middle class with large incomes who want to consume good quality food. Where better to source it than from Ireland?

“Some people may moan about the cost of sending Ministers abroad, but it should be recognised that such visits are a prerequisite for marketing and selling Irish food products.”

Farming has been and is the backbone of the economy of County Limerick, he said. The country was no different to most other countries, in that it is a necklace of small towns and villages across wide open countryside in which the contribution of family farms is of massive importance.

Climate change the greatest challenge facing humanity - Neville

Climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity, Limerick Fine Gael Deputy Dan Neville told the Dáil. It threatens the environment and economic development and the quality of life we enjoy, he said.

This generation will be remembered by how it responded to this challenge.

Failure to take the necessary action on climate change will have potentially catastrophic effects in many areas of the globe. Climate change will also have spill-over impacts in all regions and countries which will grow as its impact increases.

“We will have to adapt our lives to manage our responses to these changes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to ensure future generations can retain the capacity to manage future climatic conditions.”

Speaking during a debate on a new Carbon Action Bill, Deputy Neville said when discussing climate change, it is important to provide a definition of climate.

Although weather and climate appear closely related, they are in fact two different concepts.

“Weather describes the meteorological conditions at a given time and place,” he said.

“Climate, however, describes the meteorological conditions, including temperature, rain and wind, that characteristically prevail in a particular region over a period, with the typical unit of time taken being 30 years.

“It is possible, by collecting weather information all around the country every hour and by analysing these records over the aforementioned 30-year period, to assess how the climate is behaving and changing.”

Currently, he said Ireland’s climate tends to be warm in the summer, at approximately 16° Celsius and cool in the winter at approximately 5° Celsius.

Natural climate variability also is picked up by these measurements. For instance, March 2012 was one of the warmest for 50 years, while March 2013 was the coldest on record.

This does not mean necessarily that the climate is changing but an increase in extremes such as these is a good indicator that it might be.