Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has met with US agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack.

In the meeting yesterday (Tuesday, April 13), the minister congratulated Secretary Vilsack on his reappointment to the position by President Joe Biden. Vilsack previously held the role under Barack Obama.

Discussing the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol, Minister McConalogue acknowledged “the support and understanding of President Biden and his administration in relation to peace and stability in Northern Ireland, including through support of the Good Friday Agreement and effective application of the protocol.

Other issues that were discussed included climate change, research, technology and trade.

“The meeting was a timely opportunity to engage with our American friends on matters of both mutual and individual concern,” the minister said afterwards.

He added: “Our discussions today included climate change and the need to embrace research and technology, and to work in partnership with farmers in meeting the significant challenges ahead.”

Minister McConalogue noted that Secretary Vilsack acknowledged the opportunity to collaborate on research involving Ireland, Northern Ireland and the US, in finding solutions to these challenges.

On trade issues, the minister and the secretary agreed that further engagement would be needed on that matter.

The minister noted the role Secretary Vilsack played when Ireland first achieved beef access to the US market, and he told the secretary that he hoped that progress could be made in the near future in relation to sheepmeat access.

“We held a fruitful conversation today on many issues and Secretary Vilsack and I agreed to co-operate and collaborate on challenges facing agriculture and to work to facilitate trade for everyone’s benefit,” Minister McConalogue said.

Yesterday (April 13), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of more than $330 million to help agricultural producers and organisations in the food supply chain recover from the financial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.