The Primary Growth Partnership may continue under the Labour-led Government but with a greater focus on soil and water issues.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor told AgScience:
“I have indicated there will be a review of PGP. Millions have been invested across different sectors and of course there is good that will have come from it. But identifying that is not so easy.
“So we’ve got to make sure that wherever taxpayers are spending money across the rural and agricultural sectors, they are getting good value for that money because just as farmers expect to use their money wisely, so does government.
“And we’ve got to make sure that we don’t drop the ball.”
O’Connor said there was a need for a greater understanding of the value of soil and all aspects of its protection and development.
Similarly, with water science “there’s a hell of a lot for us still to learn”.
Not enough investment had been put into those areas.
On the role of state grants for research and development, O’Connor said the Government hadn’t committed to any approach, other than to boost the Sustainable Farming Fund, “which we think has been a very successful approach – we like small smart initiatives.”
With the PGP, large amounts of money often had been invested for business-as-usual projects
“We are going to balance those,” O’Connor said.
“Firstly, we will have a review and look at the system .
“I know PGP has improved over time in terms of oversight and accountability, but the question still remains what is the best way to spend taxpayers money for the future of agriculture.”
Without a vision and strategic plan “we’re not quite sure if we are spending that money in the right direction”.