Farming groups welcome Hogan’s appointment
New agriculture commissioner faces immediate challenge in Russian food ban
Farming orgaisations welcomed Phil Hogan’s appointment as agriculture commissioner while Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív urged him to tackle the current beef crisis.
There was universal welcome from farm organisations and farming figures for Phil Hogan’s appointment as EU commissioner for agriculture and rural affairs.
Minister for Agriculture and Fine Gael colleague Simon Coveney said it was a “very significant announcement for Ireland and is recognition of the role the Irish presidency played in securing a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) agreement last year”.
He said Mr Hogan’s portfolio was a major economic portfolio which controlled 40 per cent of the EU budget. “This government has prioritised agriculture and food as a major economic driver for the Irish economy and this appointment will help deliver those targets.”
Vice president of the European Parliament, and Fine Gael colleague, Maireád McGuinness said securing the agriculture portfolio was a real coup. “It is a crucial policy area and the commission, with the parliament and council, will shape the future of European food, agriculture and rural development...Phil Hogan’s track record in delivering difficult policy issues will stand him well in the agriculture portfolio in the new commission.”
Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív congratulated Mr Hogan on his appointment but warned that he faced “a huge task” in resolving some of the issues facing Irish farming. He urged Mr Hogan to make free trade in beef on the island of Ireland a priority “so the current beef crisis affecting Irish farming can be tackled”. He also said Mr Hogan must seek to adopt a comprehensive rural development plan to ensure the improvement and prosperity of rural Europe “and in particular for peripheral countries like Ireland”.
The Irish Farmers’ Association was often at loggerheads with former EU commissioner for agriculture Ray MacSharry but its president Eddie Downey said the farm group looked forward to working closely with Mr Hogan in shaping the future of agricultural policy in a way that would benefit all farmers.
“There are important decisions ahead for the agriculture sector, including the future direction of the CAP, excessive bureaucracy, climate change restrictions, EU retail legislation and damaging trade deals,” Mr Downey said. “Irish and European farmers need a strong voice around the commission table.”
ICMSA leader John Comer said the fall-out of the Russian ban was one of the most immediate challenges facing Mr Hogan in his new role. He also highlighted the threat from trade talks “and critically the tackling of the overwhelming powers and abuses perpetrated by the powerful retail corporations who maintain and increase their own margins while driving primary producers out of business.”
The Russian ban on EU food and drink products was also highlighted by Ibec’s Food and Drink Industry Ireland as a key challenge. Its director Paul Kelly said decisions at a European level would have a crucial role to play in the success of the agri-food sector into the future.