Ireland’s farming community needs to be protected and the “below-cost selling” of Irish produce should be “stamped out”, according to President Michael D Higgins on day one of the National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois.

Farming, he said, is at the very core of rural life and in many cases has been passed on from generation to generation.

“Farming is a fundamental human activity, providing societies with food, clothing, medicine, and other essential products, as well as being, through best practices, central to maintaining vital ecosystems and supporting biodiversity, soil formation, water regulation and carbon sequestration,” President Higgins said.

Speaking at the All Ireland U40 Horse Plough competition on Tuesday, he said: “It’s wonderful to be back and from the very beginning when I became president I always started with the horses. It brings me right back to when I was young on my uncle’s farm in Co Clare.”

As United Nations week gets under way in New York, President Higgins said it would be “tragic” if the week went by without addressing food security.

“Year after year the United Nations avoids dealing with the structural issues leading to food crisis. Let us hope that it doesn’t repeat the disgrace of the G7 which gave 90 minutes to discuss environment, food and poverty,” he said.

We need, he said, a global institution worthy of the global challenges we face.


“We are on course for a planetary population of 10bn people by 2050, according to United Nation' figures. Fellow global citizens will need to be fed, and in a manner that does not threaten the ecological boundaries of the planet itself,” he said.