Farming Out Our Talent

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According to the IFA, the upcoming elections are one of the most important for agiculture in 35 years with topics such as CAP implementation, milk quotas and farm schemes presenting as key issues

Here, we offer you a rundown of MEP candidates
with agriculture on the brain. Who will emerge as cream of the crop?

Mairead McGuinness
MEP Midlands North West Fine Gael
Since the 2004 election, Mairead has been a full member of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. This committee is responsible for the development and implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), rural development, veterinary and plant health, animal welfare and forestry. McGuinness is vocal about the beef crisis and has deemed it unacceptable that animals born in the south cannot find factories in the north willing to slaughter them.

Jim Higgins
MEP Ireland North West Fine Gael
Jim has a particular focus on agriculture as he sees it as having a huge importance to Ireland's overall economic well-being. Protecting Ireland's rural development funds and ensuring that these funds are used effectively to support the targets of Food Harvest 2020 are two of his main concerns. Gearing up for the election, the Mayo native will be engaging in weekend campaiging to catch all those from the west who live in the Dublin commuter belt.

Seán Kelly
MEP Ireland South Fine Gael
As the son of dairy and sheep farmers, Seán spent a considerable part of his youth working the land. This former President of the GAA believes that farming is the future of rural Ireland, and the national economy. A vocal proponent of the importance of rural development, Séan, and his party, feels that it is time to realise the true potential of the agricultural industry and cultivate and support rural regions in the face of difficult economic times.

Phil Prendergast
Ireland South Labour
A midwife and nurse by profession, Phil has served as a substitute member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. Her main areas of focus are consumer rights, economy and personal debt, and access to healthcare. She recently spoke out against Eamon Gilmore, calling for him to be replaced as Leader of the Labour Party.

Pat the Cope Gallagher
MEP Midlands North West Fianna Fáil
This Donegal man's political career has spanned over 35 years. Pat is a member and ALDE coordinator on the Committee on Fisheries and a member of the Committee on Regional Development. From the period 2014 to 2020, Ireland will receive €8.5bn in EU funding that will be paid in direct payments and €2.2bn in EU funding for rural development. According to Pat, it is vitally important that this funding is used to support the Food Harvest 2020 strategy to ensure a sustainable economic future for farmers and their families.

Matt Carthy
Midlands North West Sinn Féin
This first-time candidate claims to have an understanding of the needs of rural Ireland. After a decade in politics, he is throwing his hat into the MEP elections and promises to demand that resources are delivered fairly to the rural regions most in need of support and that agriculture is recognised as central to the development of local economies. Speaking recently on the other MEPs representing his constituency, Matt has commented: "They've been absolute failures".

Lynn Boylan
Dublin Sinn Féin
Lynn has been an active Sinn Féin member for eight years. She has a particular focus on EU policy and politics in the areas of environment, public transport, employment and food regulation. Lynn serves as Chairperson of the the Safefood Advisory Board, one of the Good Friday Agreement All Ireland bodies, which promotes greater cooperation in the areas of nutrition and food safety.

Ronan Mullen
Midlands North West Independent
A farmer's son from east Galway, Ronan values Ireland's rural and community life. This European hopeful wants Irish people to be able to live and thrive in the communities they grew up in and not be forced to leave Ireland due to economic necessity. Ronan is committed to working with individuals from any party that has a common goal of protecting the vulnerable and investing in services for struggling communities in Ireland.

Marian Harkin
MEP Ireland North West Independent
According to Marian, agriculture is the single most important entity sustaining the very fabric of her constituency from production at farm level to the purchasing power of the sector. Marian has been heavily involved in the debate on CAP reform citing it is a "pivotally important" to her 11-county constituency. Her main priorities are ensuring that CAP remains well funded and that Ireland is provided with a fair proportion of the overall CAP budget.