Extraordinary modernisation has taken place on Irish farms since Ireland joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973, European Commissioner Máiréad McGuinness told Teagasc's EU 50 conference which marks 50 years of Ireland's EU membership.

The Common Agricultural Policy was a catalyst for modernising farm structures, the increase in both the volume, value and quality of our agricultural production and trade over the last 50 years, maintained McGuinness.

"When we joined our economy was relatively under-developed, very dependent for trade with the European Union, we were net beneficiaries from the EU budget until around 2014, today we are net contributors - a sign that we are a developed and wealthy member of the EU," she said.


Farmers, she said, were very keen to join the EEC as far back as the 1950s before eventually joining with the UK and Denmark in 1973.

"The promise of joining the EEC was based on a real sense that we would be part of something bigger and that there would be an improvement for farmers. There was an improvement for farming, principally through the Common Agricultural Policy," she said.

Farmers can deal with a lot of things bar bad weather at bad times, Commissioner McGuinness said.

“The fortunes of farmer are very much linked to the natural world," she said.