Fine Gael is hosting a day-long conference on agriculture and rural development issues, entitled Stronger Communities in Rural Ireland, on Saturday 7 May at the Tullamore Court Hotel.
The conference will feature prominent politicians and speakers in the field of agriculture and rural development including An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Minister Simon Coveney, Minister Martin Heydon, former GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail, Glanbia Co-op CEO Jim Bergin and Good Food Ireland Managing Director Margaret Jeffares.
Speaking ahead of the event, An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: “Fine Gael listens to communities and rural businesses, and this conference will allow members and supporters to help shape Fine Gael Party policy. and the future of rural Ireland.
“As a party, we have always prioritized sustainable rural development to enable people to live, work and age in their own communities. One of my first acts as Taoiseach was to establish the Department of Rural and Community Development. This department has grown and expanded since and continues to be headed by a Minister of Fine Gael.
“The rural and agricultural sector plays a vital role in the Irish 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 are working hard to protect these jobs and businesses.
Minister Martin Heydon said: “Fine Gael sees agriculture as being at the heart of a prosperous rural Ireland. Farmers and agribusinesses across the country are playing a crucial role in supporting what is an incredibly resilient and innovative sector.
“Fine Gael is focused on supporting a science-based approach to further improve the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the agrifood sector. Our farms are constantly evolving to meet the challenges they face, which has helped the sector to cement its place as one of Ireland’s most important indigenous industries.
“The next conference will be an opportunity to reflect on this journey so far and consider what lies ahead. I look forward to hearing from Fine Gael members and supporters next Saturday in Tullamore.”
Rural and Community Development Minister Heather Humphreys said: “Fine Gael’s ambition for rural Ireland is simple: we want to build stronger and safer communities by making our rural towns and villages better places. where to live, work, run a business and raise a family.
“Last year I launched our most ambitious rural development policy in decades. Although only a year old, “Our Rural Future” is already having a big impact in communities across the country.
“The fight against abandonment and vacancy is one of our top priorities. We take old, empty buildings across Ireland and repurpose them, giving them new life.
“We also want people to be able to return to live and work where they grew up. Fine Gael is leading the way in remote working, through our Connected Hubs initiative, which has established hundreds of remote working hubs in our local communities.
“This conference in Tullamore will be an opportunity for Fine Gael to explain how we intend to continue to roll out Our Rural Future, but more importantly how we continue to be the party that champions investment in rural Ireland. look forward to meeting members and supporters that day and discussing the future of rural Ireland together.
Program of the Fine Gael conference on agriculture and rural development:
10 a.m.: Registration and opening of exhibitors
11 a.m.: Opening speech by Minister Martin Heydon
11:30 a.m.: Session 1: Markets & Margins
Moderator: Clr. Anthony Barry
Panel: Minister Martin Heydon; Richard Clinton, commercial director at Dawn Meats; Gerard Cleary, Chief Financial Officer at Glenisk; Edna Curley, Principal of Mountbellew Agricultural College and Farm Manager.
12.15pm: Session 2: Securing life in rural Ireland – Planning, community and life
Moderator: Deirdre Clune, MEP
Panel: Minister Peter Burke; Doírín Graham, CEO Clare Local Development; Aogán Ó Fearghail, former president of the GAA; Pat Smith, MD Local energy, renewable solar energy.
1 p.m.: Lunch break and opening of exhibitors
2:00 p.m.: Session 3: Interview and Q&A with Party Leader and Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar TD
Moderator: Maria Walsh, MEP
2:40 p.m.: Session 4: The challenges and opportunities of climate action for food production
Moderator: Senator Micheál Carrigy
Panel: Jim Bergin, CEO Glanbia Co-Op; Thia Hennessy, professor of agro-food economics at UCC; Colm Markey, MEP; Martina Calvey Achill Mountain Lamb.
3.30pm: Session 5: Economic Opportunities for Rural Ireland: Remote Work and Entrepreneurship
Moderator: Senator Tim Lombard
Panel: Minister Heather Humphreys TD; Teresa Roche, Kylemore Farmer’s Cheese; Paddy Buggy, director of the Mountmellick Development Association; Margaret Jeffares, MD Good Food Ireland.
4:15 p.m.: Session 6: Interview & Q&A with Minister Simon Coveney: The Russian invasion of Ukraine – Consequences for Europe and Ireland
Moderator: Cllr Fidelis Doherty
5 p.m.: Closing of the event