Minister McConalogue and Humphreys host North South Ministerial Council Agriculture and Rural Development Meeting

Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., today hosted the Agriculture and Rural Development Sectoral Meeting of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC). Minister McConalogue represented the Government at this meeting along with his colleague Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys T.D.

The meeting allowed Minister McConalogue and Minister Humphreys to discuss areas of mutual interest and cooperation with their Northern Irish Executive counterparts, Ministers Muir, Cameron and Reilly. This was the first NSMC Sectoral meeting on Agriculture and Rural Development since the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive in February and follows on from the whole of Government NSMC plenary meeting held on 8 April.

Minister McConalogue noted following the meeting, “I am delighted that this sectoral NSMC is restored. My Department and I are fully committed to further enhancing engagement with our Northern Irish counterparts on a wide range of policy areas which present common challenges and opportunities for farmers, food producers and rural communities across the island.”

The Council meeting discussed topics associated with cooperation on Animal and Plant Health, Farm Safety, Rural Development, Research and Innovation. The Council agreed that engagement on these issues should be progressed, as well agreeing that further opportunities for collaboration on Climate Change and Biodiversity challenges should be explored before the next meeting of the Council later this year.

Minister McConalogue continued, “The challenges associated with addressing climate change and biodiversity loss are some of the most pressing issues facing stakeholders in the agriculture sector globally including our stakeholders across this island. Our farming communities stand ready to continue to play their important role in contributing to the achievement of positive change in these areas. The Council meeting today recognised these challenges and has tasked our officials to explore and identify how we can improve cooperation in addressing these issues, supporting our farmers and agriculture producers in contributing to solutions which benefit them and the environment across the island for the benefit of all.”

The Council also considered and agreed conclusions in respect of rural development issues. Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, spoke about two major projects with a cross-border element, stating “I don’t think any North South Ministerial Council meeting would be complete without mentioning the Ulster Canal. When complete it will be a transformational project for the border region in terms of the tourism and recreation opportunities it will bring.”

Minister Humphreys continued, “Only a couple of weeks ago I was delighted to officially open the fabulous new PEACE campus in Monaghan town.

“The PEACE Campus is a €27m investment in Monaghan and a great example of my Department working in collaboration with the Special EU Programmes Body and the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland.”

(Source: Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine)

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