Farming has been an important part of Irish life ever since the first settlers arrived on our green, fertile island.
Ireland’s mild climate and lush soil has been a valuable source of food and trade for thousands of years and it’s still a vital part of who we are.
Being part of the European Union has helped Ireland become economically less dependent on agriculture and we now also have plenty of hi-tech industry and global exports to help support us.
However, the agri-food sector currently contributes €24 billion annually to the national economy and when supporting industries are included, it accounts for almost 10% of employment in the country.
Like their ancestors, modern Irish farmers face many challenges but being a Member State of the European Union means they don’t have to face them alone.
All 28 EU Member States co-ordinate their efforts through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) so that the global agriculture community can work together for the benefit of all humankind.
The CAP not only supports farmers’ incomes it also provides incentives to produce high quality food for consumers and encourages them to seek new development opportunities, such as renewable ‘green’ energy sources, to help protect our planet from climate change.
Preservation of our countryside is also assisted through the CAP’s Rural Development Programmes and young farmers are being supported to ensure the brightest and best are attracted to careers in agriculture.
A new, reformed CAP was agreed during the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2013. It will drive agriculture and the agri-food sector forward to 2020 and it includes important changes such as making direct payments fairer and ‘greener’ and making the CAP more efficient and more transparent.
The European Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development is Phil Hogan, former Irish Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government.
It’s his responsibility to ensure that EU agricultural and rural development policies promote growth, investment and new jobs.
Commissioner Hogan is one of 28 Commissioners who were approved by the European Parliament in 2014 before taking their positions. His job is to act in the interests of the European Union as a whole. All commissioners are obliged to be independent so they don’t take instruction from their national governments.
The CAP has been good for Ireland ever since we became part of what was then the EEC in 1973 and it will continue to ensure agriculture tackles new challenges and thrives for today’s agriculture communities as well as future generations.
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