Agriculture and food must be top of Brexit negotiations - Varadkar
Varadkar launches 12-point plan for rural Ireland
Agriculture and food must be top of the Brexit negotiations agenda according to Leo Varadkar, as he continues his bid to become the next leader of Fine Gael.
Varadkar launched a 12-point plan for rural Ireland this week, with points one and two relating to the agri-food sector.
He said that in the negotiations on Brexit, we will put the unique difficulties of the agriculture and food sector top of the agenda and ensure that arrangements and policies are put in place to counteract the potential impact on food exports to the UK.
"This can best be done by an EU-Britain Free Trade Agreement. Alongside the negotiations on the Common Agricultural Policy post-2020, we will prioritise the protection of the Basic Payments Scheme and agri-environmental schemes which are crucial to the incomes of farmers."
Varadkar went on to say that he would ensure that farmers and the food industry can capitalise on Ireland’s natural advantage as a grass-based producer of food with a low carbon footprint thereby ensuring that the ambitious targets set out in Food Wise 2025 are achieved.
Speaking at the launch of his Catch-up Strategy for the Ireland Left Behind, Varadkar said that throughout his Ministerial career he has supported rural Ireland through a range of measures including increasing funding for rural roads, supporting rural tourism, increasing funding for rural GPs and reversing cuts to the Farm Assist.
“I want the recovery to be shared by all communities. This new Strategy brings together 12 key parts of my Taking Ireland Forward plan covering agriculture and the marine, transport, broadband, tourism, local services like schools and post offices, healthcare, town and village renewal.
"If elected Leader of Fine Gael, progress in these 12 areas will be benchmarked across Government, with all Departments reporting directly to the Cabinet Sub-Committee for Regional & Rural Affairs."