31 October 2022
By Tom Collins
Meeting to take place in Mitchelstown on November 4th with Ministers Coveney and Heydon
Challenges facing the rural and agriculture sector will be the focus of a one day conference hosted by Fine Gael in Cork in the coming days.
The Fine Gael National Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (NAFRD) forum will hold a regional conference in Firgrove Hotel, Mitchelstown at 8pm on Friday, 4th November.
The event will feature politicians and prominent speakers in the area of agriculture and food production including Minister Simon Coveney, Minister Martin Heydon, Louise Crowley, Dairy Farmer and National Dairy Council Ambassador, and Helen O’Donnell, owner of Limerick-based business Dolmen Catering.
Eddie Downey, chairperson of the Fine Gael National Agriculture, Food & Rural Development Forum, said: “As part of our successful national conference in Tullamore last May, Fine Gael formed the Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (NAFRD) Forum to give a voice to rural members.
“Fine Gael believes in a rural Ireland that is prosperous and thriving and in the last five years, Government has provided massive investment including; establishing a new Government Department for Rural and Community Development backed by a €1bn rural development fund, the National Broadband Plan and the Regional Enterprise Development Fund.
“We are also very aware of the challenges that exist including; volatile prices for farmers, dereliction in some of our towns and villages, the loss of younger people, inadequate public transport and other infrastructure.
“The forum is about connecting rural Ireland and the agricultural sector to our elected representatives. As chairperson, I look forward to continuing our important work and meeting and engaging with communities and businesses on the ground.”
Minister for Foreign Affairs & Defence Simon Coveney said: “The rural and agriculture sector is an integral part of Ireland’s economy, with agri-food exports accounting for 9.5% of total exports and making a significant contribution to employment with 164,400 jobs in rural and coastal areas.
“The war in Ukraine has had a major impact on farmers’ production costs, particularly feed, fuel, and fertiliser. In Budget 2023, Government delivered further support to the sector to respond to these challenges and to support our farmers, fishers, and rural and coastal communities.
“We know times are tough so we want to put more money in your pocket and reduce the cost of living for all in rural Ireland. We are working hard to make our communities stronger and safer
“As a party, we want to focus on the solutions, whether it’s food production and a better deal for farmers, tourism potential, renewable energy and industry and, of course, things we have not considered.
“That is what our upcoming meeting in Mitchelstown is about and I look forward to hearing from members, supporters and other interested stakeholders,” Minister Coveney said.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Minister of State with special responsibility for Research and Development, Farm Safety and New Market Development, Martin Heydon, said: “This conference is the start of a series of regional meetings to be hosted by the National, Agriculture, Food & Rural Development Forum. It will give members with an interest in agricultural and rural affairs the opportunity to hear from a range of interesting speakers and to put forward their views.
“Agriculture is our oldest and most important indigenous sector. It plays a vital economic and social role in rural communities, like those here in Munster, and across the country. Fine Gael wants to work with farmers and rural dwellers to deliver a strong, prosperous sector now and into the future.”