Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Tom Hayes last week paid a visit to some of Meath’s top Agri food businesses, all of which are family run. Among the visits were Clarkes Fresh Fruit and Whytes Family Farm both in Stamullen and Meade Potatoes in Lobinstown. Deputy McEntee said;
“The Agri Food sector contributes a value of €24 billion to the Irish economy every year. Almost 10% of Ireland’s exports come from this sector and it provides 7.7% of national employment. When you add processing and marketing and other inputs it accounts for almost 10% of employment. Investment in Agriculture produces a far bigger return to our local economy than any other sector and it is even more evident when you see a family run businesses where all the family members live locally. Most farming businesses are family run and it is so important that we keep that tradition going.
“Personally I think it is an extremely exciting time for the food and Agri sector. Ireland is at the top of its class when it comes to food production and because of our traceability, our quality and because of the high standards we set ourselves our produce is renowned world wide. In saying that however I understand that with high standards come a cost and as a government we have to continue to invest in and support farming businesses so that they can continue to provide a top quality produce.
“Minister Hayes came to Meath to see the fantastic food and produce we have to offer be he also came to listen and to take back to the Department the challenges that are still being faced by farmers in the Agri food sector. I know that this is an extremely challenging time for the potato sector and I hope that the Minister will take on board a number of issues that were raised concerning it.”