Dáil debates

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Security: Statements


4:15 pm

Photo of Jennifer Carroll MacNeillJennifer Carroll MacNeill (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)

I am very pleased to speak in this debate. I attended the Fine Gael conference on agriculture in Tullamore at the weekend. It was wonderful to see how vibrant it was and how vibrant the participants were about agriculture and agri-food in Ireland. My constituency in Dún Laoghaire is not exactly a rural one, but it is dependent, as is every constituency, on the success of the agri-food business in Ireland as a key part of the Irish economy. I recognise the 160,000 people who work in the industry and the contribution it makes of €13.7 billion to the economy. It is an extraordinary fact that exports have risen by 73% in such a difficult period for Ireland's recovery.

I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, for organising the visit to the Teagasc facility in Grange, as outlined by Deputy Phelan. I learned a huge amount about more efficient farming. I went in as a sceptic, as somebody who had not understood quite how prominent Ireland is in terms of carbon efficiency in production of dairy and beef and how much more we have done and can do. I very much appreciated the opportunity to question the scientists and experts there. I recognise Teagasc's contribution to scientific development in ways that can continue to reduce carbon emissions from this country.

As Deputy Phelan has said, it is important to acknowledge how much more efficient we are as a food producing country than so many others, and the value of the contribution that Ireland can and does make. Fine Gael is a party that has always supported rural Ireland. The party has a track record of supporting and investing in rural Ireland and supporting farmers and we will continue to do that.


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