A conference on agriculture and rural development takes place in Tullamore next Saturday
Fine Gael is holding a one-day conference on matters relating to agriculture and rural development, entitled Stronger Communities in Rural Ireland, on Saturday,May 7 in the Tullamore Court Hotel.
The conference will feature politicians and prominent speakers in the area of agriculture and rural development, including An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Minister Simon Coveney, Minister Martin Heydon, Former GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail, CEO of Glanbia Co-op Jim Bergin, and MD of Good Food Ireland Margaret Jeffares.
Speaking ahead of the event, An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said, “Fine Gael is listening to rural communities and businesses, and this conference will allow members and supporters to contribute to shaping Fine Gael Party policy and the future of rural Ireland.
“As a party, we have always prioritised sustainable rural development to allow people live, work and grow old in their own communities. One of my first acts as Taoiseach was to create the Department of Rural and Community Development. This Department has grown and expanded since and continues to be led by a Fine Gael Minister.
“The rural and agriculture 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.”
Minister Martin Heydon said, “Fine Gael sees agricultural as being at the heart of a prosperous rural Ireland. Farmers and agri-businesses the length and breadth of the country play a crucial role in underpinning what is an incredibly resilient and innovative sector.
"Fine Gael is focused on supporting a science-based approach to further enhance the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of the agri-food sector. 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.
“The upcoming conference will be an opportunity to reflect on that journey to date and to examine what lies ahead. I am looking forward to hearing from Fine Gael members and supporters next Saturday in Tullamore."
Minister for Rural and Community Development 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 to live, work, run a business and raise a family.
“I launched our most ambitious rural development policy in decades just last year. While it’s only a year old, ‘Our Rural Future’ is already having a big impact in communities right across the country.
“Tackling dereliction and vacancy is one of our major priorities. We’re taking old, empty buildings across Ireland and repurposing them, giving them a new lease of life.
“We also want people to be able to move back to live and work where they grew up. Fine Gael is leading the way on remote working, through our Connected Hubs initiative, which has established hundreds of remote working hubs in our local communities.
“This conference in Tullamore will present an opportunity for Fine Gael to set out how we intend to continue the roll-out of Our Rural Future, but more importantly how we continue to be the party that champions investment in rural Ireland. I look forward to meeting with members and supporters on the day and discussing the future of rural Ireland together.”
Schedule for Fine Gael Agriculture & Rural Development Conference:
10am: Registration, and exhibitors open
11am: Opening address from Minister Martin Heydon
11.30am: Session 1: Markets & Margins
Moderator: Cllr. Anthony Barry
Panel: Minister Martin Heydon; Richard Clinton, Commercial Director at Dawn Meats; Gerard Cleary, Financial Director at Glenisk; Edna Curley, Principal of Mountbellew Agricultural College & Farm Manager.
12.15pm: Session 2: Ensuring Life in Rural Ireland - Planning, Community and Living
Moderator: Deirdre Clune MEP
Panel: Minister Peter Burke; Doírín Graham, CEO Clare Local Development; Aogán Ó Fearghail, former GAA President; Pat Smith, MD Local Power, Solar Renewable Energy.
1pm: Lunch break, and exhibitors open
2pm: Session 3: Interview & Q&A with Party Leader and Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar TD
Moderator: Maria Walsh MEP
2.40pm: 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 Agri-Food Economics in 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 Farmhouse Cheese; Paddy Buggy, Manager Mountmellick Development Association; Margaret Jeffares, MD Good Food Ireland.
4.15pm: Session 6: Interview & Q&A with Minister Simon Coveney: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine – Consequences for Europe & Ireland
Moderator: Cllr Fidelis Doherty
5pm: Event close
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