By Joe Barrett
The Labour representative in the Graiguecullen/Portarlington Municipal District Eoin Barry has called on the Government to convene a Citizens’ Assembly on the future of agriculture and food production in Ireland.
Speaking at the Ploughing Championships Mr Barry said a radical rethink of Ireland’s agriculture sector needs to happen to protect livelihoods of farming families and create good and sustainable jobs and communities into the future.
He said: “We need to have a national conversation on what the future of agriculture can look like. To make it happen, it’s time to break free of political short-term thinking, and place good and sustainable jobs and communities at the heart of policymaking. We can make a start by convening a Citizens’ Assembly on the future of Agriculture and Food productions in Ireland without delay.
“An assembly could consider everything, from our food strategy to innovative and green ways of farming. We could also consider the types of service we need in rural communities so that people can access the services they need in their local area. With the closures of so many post offices and banks around the country many people are having to drive long distances to access services they could previously access in their local village or town. Local public transport isn’t available or flexible enough for people to use and many are having to resort to driving and paying the high cost of fuel.”
“We know a free-market approach won’t deliver sustainable agriculture and good farming incomes and jobs in the midlands or elsewhere. A Citizens’ Assembly must look at how we find solutions to the immense challenges that we face locally. “We know that change is required to promote a sustainable food and agriculture industry and one rooted in rural communities that have the services that people need. As we work to achieve this goal, we need to bring everyone together and build an Ireland that works for all,” said Mr Barry.