Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, Simon Coveney, has said that Fine Gael has “always been the party for rural and farming families across Ireland”.

Speaking at the Fine Gael National Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (NAFRD) conference in Cork, he said:

“We are holding large meetings across the country to reach out and talk to farm families about the opportunities and challenges they are facing.

“Agriculture and the food industry is the most important indigenous sector in Ireland and Fine Gael knows it.”

The event was held on Friday (November 4) in the Firgrove Hotel, Mitchelstown, and featured Ministers Simon Coveney and Martin Heydon, Louise Crowley, dairy farmer and National Dairy Council ambassador, and Helen O’Donnell, owner of Limerick-based business Dolmen Catering.

Speaking after the event, Eddie Downey, chairperson of the Fine Gael National Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Forum, said:

“Farmers are Ireland’s most important agents of change in dealing with the climate crisis.

“We led a meaningful dialogue around things like increasing production of Irish food, helping our young farmers, reducing emissions, and embracing technological advances.

“It is achievable to reduce our emissions by 25% if we continue these conversations.

“We are hearing about the massive efforts in the farmyard to evolve and keep the farm sustainable economically, as well as environmentally.

“Fine Gael, as a party in government, will help and guide farming through these challenges.”

Minister of State Martin Heydon said: “This was an important opportunity to thrash out the issues that matter most to farmers in the region.

“Much of the meeting centred on how the sector can deliver on our ambitions around climate and environment while protecting the economic viability of the sector.

“Irish agriculture is well placed to meet this challenge and Fine Gael believes that the best way to do this is by working in partnership with farmers.

“It is our job to lay out a clear roadmap and to ensure the necessary supports and resources are available.

“Together we can deliver a prosperous future for rural Ireland and I look forward to our next round of regional meetings that will take place in the coming months.”