Fine Gael is holding a one-day conference this weekend on matters relating to agriculture and rural development, aiming to support stronger and safer communities in rural Ireland.

The conference takes place on Saturday (May 7) at the Tullamore Court Hotel in Co. Offaly and will feature politicians and prominent speakers in the area of agriculture and rural development.

An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar; Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Martin Heydon; former GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail; CEO of Glanbia Co-op Jim Bergin; and managing director of Good Food Ireland Margaret Jeffares, will all be among those in attendance.

Speaking ahead of the event, the Tánaiste said this conference will allow members and supporters to contribute to shaping Fine Gael’s policy and the future of rural Ireland. He added:

“The rural and agricultural sector plays a vital role in 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.

“We are fully committed to a thriving rural economy and we’re working hard to protect these jobs and businesses,” according to the Tánaiste.

Farmers and agri-businesses, the length and breadth of the country, Minister Heydon said, play a crucial role in underpinning what is an incredibly resilient and innovative sector. He added:

“Our farms are constantly evolving to meet the challenges they face, which has helped the sector cement its place as one of Ireland’s most important indigenous industries.”

Fine Gael is focused on supporting a science-based approach to further enhance the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the agri-food sector, Minister Heydon said.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys said the party holds the ambition to make rural towns and villages better places to live, work, run a business and raise a family in.

Our Rural Future – the government’s policy for rural Ireland – is already having a big impact in communities across the country, Minister Humphreys said.

“This conference will present an opportunity for Fine Gael to set out how we intend to continue the rollout of Our Rural Future, but, more importantly, how we continue to be the party that champions investment in rural Ireland,” she added.