Commenting on the Census of Agriculture 2010 “Taking Stock” figures, the ICMSA President, John Comer, said that figures were able to absolutely confirm certain trends while at the same time obscuring or confusing others.
In terms of confirming a trend, Mr Comer pointed out that the average size of a holding given for 2010 of 32.7 hectares should be judged against the average size given in 2000 of 31.4 hectares and on that basis it seemed fair to conclude that all the consolidation measures introduced in the intervening decade had failed and must be reviewed.
“We still do not have a viable and workable system of farm consolidation based on imaginative taxation features and other measures. That’s where the impetus to real farm consolidation lies and that is where successive governments have failed signally and as recently as last week’s Finance Bill,” said Mr Comer.
He also noted the massive discrepancy between the 27,414 farms given as containing dairy cows with the number of quota holders of approximately 18,000 and asked for a much closer co-ordination and exchange of updated statistical information between the Department and bodies like the CSO that ‘fed into’ policy from different directions.
“We need to know that policy is being formed and updated on the basis of accurate, up-to-the-minute, information that is collected and ‘pooled’ by all the agencies concerned. These kinds of discrepancies and differing count methods should be eliminated so that we have assurance that we’re all ‘on the same page’ – so to speak.” observed the ICMSA President.