Fr Harry Bohan, Director of the Céifin Centre for values-led change and a leading voice in rural Ireland, also said that farmers are experiencing a ''horrific'' time as a result of falling prices.
''It's horrific for farm families,'' Fr Bohan told The Irish Catholic. ''It's now costing more to produce food than farmers can ever hope to get paid for it.
''The impact of that on rural communities is enormous. A lot of young farmers are going to get out of grain and milk production altogether. As a result we could be in a position where we have to start importing grain.
''The family farm is the backbone of rural communities, there are a lot of commuters in rural areas, but at the end of the day it is the farm family that keeps the community together.
''Farmers and their families are key to what a rural community is all about,'' he said. Fr Bohan rejected the findings of the controversial McCarthy Report which proposed cuts of up to €300m in rural areas.
''While we continue to talk about all the other major issues, like the banks and the recession, I'm not hearing enough about the impact of these things on community life in a rural area,'' he said. ''This is because rural communities do not get enough attention. Rural Garda stations, rural post offices and rural transport schemes are all set to be cut dramatically, leading to further isolation of people in rural communities.
''If the cutbacks go ahead as proposed it will be devastating,'' he told The Irish Catholic.
The annual Céifin Conference this year will address the theme of 'Leadership'.
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