Lack of a minister has left agriculture in ‘a very precarious position’ – ICSA

“It’s essential that the new minister hits the ground running because agriculture has been left in a very precarious position with the comings and goings of the past few months.”

This was the view of the general secretary of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) Eddie Punch.

He spoke to AgriLand about the news that a new Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine is set to be appointed next Wednesday (September 2) after the Dáil was recalled early by Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

What the new minister must bring to the table

He outlined the expertise that the ICSA would like to see in the new minister:

“We’d want someone who is knowledgeable about the agricultural brief and would have experience with the brief as well.

In particular now with Brexit, the Common Agricultural Policy [CAP] and the impact of the current Covid-19 pandemic, it’s an urgent matter [to appoint a minister] and we need it done as quickly as possible.

“We would want someone who is capable of [contributing] to the Beef Market Taskforce and the implementations of the taskforce.

“These measures that have been agreed and they will push to get the Beef Market Taskforce working at a quicker pace.

“It has been dragged out a bit and I know that Covid-19 has affected that but we have to work around that now and get the Beef Market Taskforce delivering what it said it would do.”

‘We need a forceful minister’

Punch continued:

“We will work with whoever gets the role. We need a forceful minister as the difficulty is you have 15 people around the Cabinet table.

If the minister isn’t forceful enough, agriculture can be left behind and not get its fair share of the pie.

“It’s not so much the name but the ability of the person to make the case for agriculture at the cabinet table,” Punch concluded.