Fine Gael is hosting a one-day conference this weekend on issues related to agriculture and rural development, with the aim of supporting stronger and safer communities in rural Ireland.

The conference will take place on Saturday 7 May at the Tullamore Court Hotel in County Offaly and will bring together prominent politicians and speakers in the field of agriculture and rural development.

An Tanaiste Leo Varadkar; Minister of State for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Navy Martin Heydon; former GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail; Glanbia Co-op CEO Jim Bergin; and the Managing Director of Good Food Ireland, Margaret Jeffares, will all be present.

Speaking ahead of the event, the Tánaiste said this conference will allow members and supporters to help shape Fine Gael politics and the future of rural Ireland. He added:

“The rural and agricultural sector plays a vital role in the Irish economy, with agri-food exports accounting for 9.5% of total exports and making a significant contribution to employment with 164,400 jobs in rural and coastal areas.

“We are fully committed to a thriving rural economy and we are working hard to protect those jobs and businesses,” according to the Tánaiste.

Farmers and agribusinesses across the country, said Minister Heydon, play a crucial role in supporting what is an incredibly resilient and innovative sector. He added:

“Our farms are constantly evolving to meet the challenges they face, which has helped the sector cement its place as one of Ireland’s most important indigenous industries.”

Fine Gael is focused on supporting a science-based approach to further improve the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the agrifood sector, Minister Heydon said.

Rural and Community Development Minister Heather Humphreys said the party’s ambition is to make rural towns and villages better places to live, work, run a business and raise a family.

Our Rural Future – the government’s policy for rural Ireland – is already having a big impact on communities across the country, said Minister Humphreys.

“This conference will be an opportunity for Fine Gael to explain how we intend to continue rolling out Our Rural Future, but more importantly how we continue to be the party that champions investment in rural Ireland,” she added.