There was unity among the three parties in recognising the huge contribution that is made by agriculture and its impact on the economy during the programme for government talks, new Minister for Agriculture Barry Cowen has said.

He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that it was imperative that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party recognised the strong environmental credentials that agriculture continues to make.

“There was also an acknowledgement that it could not suffer an undue burden in meeting the targets that the whole country and the various departments are expected to move in the direction of.

“So we put some building blocks in place to improve efficiencies, to improve environmental efficiency but not to the detriment of the industry,” he said.

National herd

When asked if the growth of the national herd should be curbed, Minister Cowen said “no, not at all”.

“I as Minister and this Government need to maintain and continue to drive for the ambition that’s within the sector, build on its already strong environmental credentials which it has held over the last number of years.

“I think the best way in which this Government can move in relation to agriculture and the marine is to recognise that the best future is aligning its production systems with consumer sentiment and environmental ambition and invest in technology and innovation that improves economic and environmental efficiency.

“That is the path we would hope to pave for the sector in the hope that it continues to thrive and continues to play the huge role that it does throughout the country. My ambition is matched by the ambition that is contained in the programme for government,” he said.

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