The new Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said that “there are significant challenges ahead”.

Speaking on Cork’s C103 FM, Creed spoke of the current income crisis in farming.

“We are a trading economy, exports are our lifeblood. The more we export, the better prices we can secure, so we can secure a decent standard of living and that’s the challenge.”

He commented that “there are issues in terms of policy that we will be working on to try and ensure people can get a just reward from the huge endeavours that they put in inside the farm gate”.

Age profile in the industry

The new minister said he had already had contact with the IFA and other farming organisations and meeting them was a priority.

Minister Creed cited the age profile in the industry as a concern.

“We had initiatives in the past in terms of insulation aid, etc, but over a period of time it did significantly change the age profile.”

He added that the interest in agriculture in third level is “great to see” and that it was a signal to ensure that people can earn a decent living from the work that they are prepared to give to the industry.

The Taoiseach’s office rang looking for me

The new minister also spoke of getting the position last Friday.

“The bells started to ring a few minutes before the Dáil was due to reconvene and I thought that was it. Another ministerial bus missed. Then the Taoiseach’s office rang looking for me.”

On the question of working with independents or the opposition, Minister Creed said he was open to ideas from any quarter. “I’ll work with anyone who has a decent, constructive viewpoint that serves the industry well,” he said.

Minister's first engagement

The Department of Agriculture released a statement on Monday saying that Minister Creed's first engagement later this week would be to meet with Commissioner Hogan to discuss the current difficult market situation for agricultural products and to outline Irish priorities and concerns in relation to international trade issues, including those relating to Mercosur and TTIP.

On Friday he will meet with EU and Climate Energy Commissioner Arias Canete to outline Ireland’s strategies on climate change mitigation and the development of agriculture and to discuss issues of mutual concern in that regard.

Then next week minister Creed will attend his first EU Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting in Brussels.

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Michael Creed has been appointed Minister for Agriculture