SKIBBEREEN man Owen O’Driscoll has been appointed as the president of the Agricultural Consultants Association of Ireland.
Owen, who began his own agricultural consultancy business, West Cork Agri Services Ltd, at Bridge Street, Skibbereen, 20 years ago and subsequently branched out to include a second office in Kenmare in 2015, took up the role at the beginning of March.
With a great deal of experience and a significant client base behind him, Owen was the obvious choice as this year’s president, having served on its Council for the last three years.
The Agricultural Consultants Association is a professional body with 200 members providing a full-range of agricultural services to 50,000 farmers nationwide. Owen said his aim, as president, is to develop a national brand for the ACA, which has the distinction of being the largest independent advisory service in Ireland.
As part of the re-structuring process, Owen said: ‘I will be organising regional meetings for our members, which is vital if you want to take a ground-up approach.’
He said there are a number of significant issues facing the farming sector, at this time, including the current fodder crisis, Brexit and the CAP 2020 negotiations.
‘In tackling these issues,’ Owen said, ‘we want to liaise directly with farmers, their organisations and policy makers. And it is our stated objective to pursue a sustainable CAP 2020 – one that will offer improved incomes for farmers.’
Owen pointed out that Phil Hogan, the EU Agricultural Commissioner, has simplified the CAP system. For example, he said the yellow card system under the Basic Payment Scheme – which is a pre-warning given without penalty for non-compliance – has proved to be successful and ‘could be rolled out to other schemes.’
As part of his presidential duties, Owen said he and the Council members will be meeting with officials from the Department of Agriculture on a regular basis and assisting them, wherever possible, in the implementation of departmental polices.
‘We have a good working relationship with the Department of Agriculture,’ he said, ‘and will also be seeking to regularise our meetings with public representatives so that our views are reflected in current policies.’