The importance of agriculture beyond the farm gate is often not fully appreciated, Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael MEP, said in Swinford at the weekend.
Officiating at the official opening of the Swinford Agricultural Show the MEP said: “We should not underestimate the economic and social importance of food production, agriculture and the rural environment.”
The Fine Gael MEP said there is a battle on in Europe that must be won. “It is the battle to maintain agricultural funding at current levels in the period beyond 2013. While there is political consensus in the European Parliament that there must be a strong EU based agriculture policy, funded centrally and adequately by the EU, the big unanswered question is the level of budget that agriculture will have into the future.
“The market for agriculture produce is imperfect. Farmers are not rewarded for the many public services they perform, including environmental services and biodiversity, in the price they receive from the marketplace and these services must be paid for by public policy,” she said.
The MEP pointed out that spending on agriculture policy in the EU has declined from over 60 per cent of the EU budget in the 1980s to 32 per cent today.
McGuinness commended everyone involved with the Swinford Agricultural Show, now in its 22nd year. “It is at the heart of community life here in Mayo which is so enriched by the efforts of all those involved. They exemplify the very best in the volunteering spirit and great credit is due to them,” she said.