Incoming Taoiseach Simon Harris has vowed to respond to the issues facing farmers in light of the torrid spring weather of 2024.

Speaking at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Galway on Saturday, he said that it has been a brutal year for farmers, because the weather has been awful.

“You need help and we will respond.

“Under my leadership, I will look at practical supports to help the farming community, because agriculture is a vital part of our economy. Your work must be rewarded, respected and valued,” he said.

The Wicklow TD said that Fine Gael is the “party of farmers, fishermen and [fisher] women and rural Ireland”.

He said he has tasked the Fine Gael agriculture forum to bring forward a plan for him within six weeks to act on issues such as succession, retirement and other worries and stresses facing the farming community.

Climate emergency

“We are living through a climate emergency. I want to say to farmers and to rural Ireland, Fine Gael will never talk down to you on climate action.

“Instead, we’ll sit down and work with you and for you. We won’t lecture you because I want to engage in a new partnership with agriculture.

“For example, I want to implement the agri-environment strategies – like the biomethane strategy – so farmers can earn a good income while protecting our environment,” he said.

Harris, the outgoing Minister for Higher Education, said he would work with farmers so that Ireland’s nitrates derogation is retained.

“While I may be leaving my current department, I will be making sure we establish new vet schools in rural Ireland as well,” he said.