Trade issues, forestry and farm safety were
among the items on the agenda when Minister for
Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed,
Matt O'Keeffe last month
Minister Creed began the conversation by acknowledging the loss
of his father, Donal, former TD, MEP and Minister of State, who
died late last year: "He was a great role model both in family and
political terms. He was a great inspiration to me personally."
The Minister went on to outline the complex nature of Irish
agriculture and the role he plays within the structure: "Individual
farmers, food businesses, the Department of Agriculture, Food
and the Marine (DAFM), advisory services, Bord Bia and other
associated organisations are all critical to our success. I see
myself as being at the political helm of that collaborative effort.
The reason the industry is so successful is because of a common
purpose among all of the key players."
It was put to the Minister that a `soft Brexit' is becoming
"There is no upside from all of this for the agri-industry," Minister
Creed said. "I believe it will be bad for us, bad for the UK and bad
for Europe. What was achieved in December is a foundation, taking
fully into account vital Irish concerns."
The Cork-based Minister does not agree that there is an over-
emphasis on north-south issues as distinct from the east-west,
Ireland-UK relationship that is so important in economic terms:
"North-south is important because of all of the history on this
island. It is very important to avoid border restrictions. That
doesn't diminish the huge economic importance of trade between
Ireland and the UK."
An adequate budget
Minister Creed dismissed the assumption that Brexit will
automatically mean a reduction in the Common Agricultural
Policy (CAP) budget: "That is not necessarily the case. There is
an increasing recognition that CAP is not just a farmers' budget.
It is delivering huge public benefits for society in terms of safe,
traceable, nutritious, sustainably produced food. It delivers public
goods in terms of the environment, safe water and biodiversity.
These are all gains for the public. In our consultation meetings,
there was a lot of support from the public for the CAP and for
farmers being deserving of a good income for their efforts. There
was a proviso that farmers should have more ambition in terms
of safeguarding the environment and further increasing the
sustainability of their produce. So, there is public support for
adequately financing the CAP."
The increased funding of Bord Bia is a clear acknowledgement of
the importance of diversifying and improving our trade links across
the globe, the Minister concurred: "It is even more important now,
AT THE POLITICAL HELM OF A
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.