‘Anyone who says rural Ireland is dying on its feet doesn’t know what is going on in agriculture’

“Anyone who tells me that rural Ireland is dying on its feet doesn’t know what is going on in agriculture,” the Minister for Agriculture said at the official opening of the Tullamore Show this week.

He said that there is more priority and more money been given to agriculture than every before.

“You should be very proud of the industry you have built over decades. Ireland is the envy in Europe and the rest of the world on the quality of the food we produce and our ability to open new markets.”

He told the Tullamore Show that there is no year that passes where all sectors in agriculture have the pricing models it would like, there are always pressures.

Last year we had strong dairy prices and pressure on beef prices and this year it’s the other way around, he said.

“I have a job to respond to that and we are trying to do that. We have a special council of EU Minister for next month and we need to look at how we can collectively respond to the pressures of dairy farmers.”

The Minister told the Tullamore Show audience that dairy prices will be subject to price volatility and Ireland has seen the upside to price volatility in the last three years.

“This year we are seeing the downside. We need to manage that and support our farmers through it.”

He also said that this will be a temporary phenomena in dairying and markets will strengthen again.

“The growth in dairy consumption will grow and will outstrip supply. What we are seeing now is happening because of a mulitipe of things – three years of cheap grain; a slight weakening in the growth in dairy consumption in China and the closure of the Russian market.”

He also appealed to banks, including AIB – the main sponsor of the Tullamore Show to show flexibility and understanding and work with farmers.

“Dairy farming will be a long-term good industry. We need to see that relationship now provide flexibility.”

Meanwhile, he said the Department, has a huge focus on opening new markets.

He said the Department is trying to ensure that the €26 billion agri-food industry is driven by Ireland having premium markets to sell premium products into.

“We will work night and day to ensure you have those markets to sell into, to ensure prices are as strong as they can be.”