In an initial statement by Phil Hogan after his nomination as Commissioner Designate for Agriculture and Rural Development he highlighted the many difficulties facing farmers.

He said: “Farming faces many challenges, not least in terms of ensuring food security, preserving the environment and protecting the countryside, but also dealing with issues such as climate change and the need to provide a fair and stable standard of living for farmers. We need to preserve the continuity and further development of the farming sector and rural areas.

Hogan also said “I am delighted to have been asked by European Commission President-elect Jean Claude Juncker to take responsibility for the agriculture and rural development portfolio in the next Commission, subject to a successful outcome to the Hearings in the European Parliament. Agriculture is of major strategic importance in Europe and has, since the foundation of the EU, been a top-level policy priority with more than a third of the EU budget, or close to 60bn€, supporting the sector each year. Agriculture and the agri-foods industry account for 6% of the EU’s GDP, comprise 15 million businesses and provide 46 million jobs.

According to the Kilkenny man the portfolio which he has secured is thanks in no small measure to the political standing of An Taoiseach Enda Kenny with President-elect Juncker. He said an Taoiseach has prioritised Agriculture and Rural Development from the outset and he has assisted enormously in securing this portfolio.

“I am now looking forward to my hearing before the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee of the European Parliament.”