Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has expressed his strong admiration for businesses and farmers in Co Leitrim following a recent trip to the county.
Minister McConalogue chose Leitrim as one of the first counties to visit as part of his nationwide Backing Rural Ireland tour. On the tour of Leitrim, the Minister visited the Social Farming Project in Drumshanbo before taking a trip to Tommy Early’s farm outside the town.
Tommy is a host farmer in the Social Farming Project and has helped a number of Ukrainian refugees settle in the area. The Minister along with Tommy and the Ukrainians planted potatoes and sowed sunflower seeds. Ukraine is the world’s largest exporter of sunflowers.
The Minister, who was accompanied by Minister of State Frank Feighan as well as chair of Leitrim County Council Paddy O’Rourke and Councillor Mary Bohan, then got a tour of The Shed Distillery. The Minister visited the Leitrim Animal Welfare Centre in Drumkeerin before a trip to the Department offices in Drumshanbo.
The Minister finished his Leitrim tour by addressing the AGM of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association in Carrick.
Speaking following the tour of Leitrim, Minister McConalogue said: “It was real honour and privilege to spend the day in Leitrim. It is a vibrant, business-friendly hot-spot of hard work and creativity. I saw some excellent businesses and farmers who are working exceptionally hard creating jobs, providing incomes and driving a balanced regional economy.
“I was really impressed by the work of the Social Farming Project and how Tommy has opened his farm and his arms to the people of Ukraine. The Shed Distillery is truly one of a kind supporting so many jobs and is driving such crucial economic output.
“I was blown away by the Leitrim Animal Welfare Centre who are doing such selfless and dedicated work. Animal welfare is a key priority of mine in Government and that is why I announced record animal welfare funding to 98 charities last year. They are real frontline heroes.
“It was also great to see the staff of my own Department in Drumshanbo who play a really important role in working with farmers in the locality and they are central to our multi-billion-euro export sector.
“Overall, I will be delighted to come back to Leitrim in the near future and I also thank all those who helped take the trip happen and those who travelled with me namely Minister Feighan and Cllrs O’Rourke and Bohan.”