Michael Ryan has been appointed president of the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA), succeeding Roscommon man Noel Feeney.

Ryan was appointed during the association's AGM in the County Arms Hotel, Birr, Co Offaly, on Thursday 7 March and will hold his post as president for two years.

The part-time tillage and sheep farmer is an agricultural adviser based in Dunlavin, Co Wicklow, and has been practicing since the mid-1990s.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Ryan said that his main aim as president is to head up a private advisory service which is fit for purpose.

The ACA represents around 200 private advisors who carry out the work for over 55,000 farmers throughout the country.

"Last year was one of the most stressful years for all advisers in Ireland, whether it be the private sector or Teagsac advisers.

"We had the roll out of a lot of schemes, we had 46,000 farmers coming into ACRES, there were new computer systems, new methods of doing schemes and it all added up to a very stressful existence for all advisers," he said.


Following the announcement this week that 9,000 farmers would be accepted into ACRES, Ryan said that this was a very positive move.

However, he argued that there was demand from another 10,000 farmers.

"You're looking at roughly 55,000 farmers now in an environmental scheme. It's great news, but, let's face it, there was still demand for more places.

"Had we a longer application window, another 10,000 people would have been possible. We had 65,000 farmers going from REPS two going into REPS three in its time.

"You have to remember that the value of the money going out has decreased. We haven't had an increase since the mid-1990s - the effects of inflation has seen a real reduction in the money coming in and now that prices have fallen and become more volatile, farmers are relying more and more on Department payments coming in and hence that driving the demand for schemes like ACRES," he said.

Looking ahead to the next CAP, Ryan stressed that more attention needs to be paid on the money coming from Europe to fund these schemes.

The Irish Government, he said, has stepped up. However, the money coming from Europe has decreased marginally.

"We were dealing with the same amount of money that we had 20 years ago and we're being asked to do more and more for it. Hence why you have the farmer protests in Europe. We're being asked to do more to stay still," he said.

Food security

Ryan's final point was around food security and the impacts of the war in Ukraine, the "bread basket" of Europe.

"We're of a generation where we don't know what it's like not to have food. The people who set the EEC up, they knew, they had been through it and they said never again, but we have forgotten that lesson. I suppose eaten bread is quickly forgotten and that is a problem," he concluded.