Taoiseach Micheál Martin has acknowledged that the agriculture sector is “going through challenging times”.

He said this week that it is “interesting” to him “how resilient the [farming] sector has been during Covid in particular”. He said that he detects “a strong sense of enterprise and innovation in agri-food in particular”.

When asked by the Irish Farmers Journal if he would like Fianna Fáil to keep the agriculture ministerial brief from December 2022, when he is due to become Tánaiste and Leo Varadkar is set to become Taoiseach, he refused to speculate as to whether he would see the current Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue continuing in this role into 2023.

While the level to which ministerial roles will be reshuffled, if at all, is not yet known, those in Leinster House will likely already be asking who and what might change within the Cabinet at this half time juncture for the current coalition.

The Taoiseach said any Cabinet reshuffle is “a long way away at the end of the year”, adding that the agricultural sector is a very important one and that while the sector is “going through challenging times”, he believes Minister McConalogue is performing well.

European Commission funding

The Irish Farmers Journal also asked the Government leader if a decision had been made on whether or not to co-finance the €15.8m awarded to the state by the European Commission, to support Irish farmers in mitigating the impact of the war in Ukraine. The Government has been permitted by the Commission to co-finance the funding by some 200%, which would bring it up to a crisis fund of €48m for Irish farmers.

The Taoiseach confirmed that a decision had not yet been made on the co-financing aspect of the funding and suggested that this decision will “not immediately” be made.

However, he said that Minister McConalogue “will bring proposals to Government in respect of that and how best to deploy that”.

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Government won't 100% mitigate impact of farm income loss – Taoiseach