The decision of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to nominate Phil Hogan for a second term as a European Commissioner has led to farm leaders pointing out the importance of having an Irish voice at the centre of decision making in Brussels.
Mr Hogan was the outgoing commissioner for agriculture and rural development, but his portfolio in the incoming college will be a matter for the next commission president.
His appointment, like those of all nominated commissioners, will be subject to European Parliament approval.
Irish Farmers Association president Joe Healy said Mr Hogan’s nomination for a second term is an opportunity for Ireland to secure a portfolio that allows the country to have the maximum influence on European Union policy.
Serious challenges ahead include the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget and reform, Brexit, trade deals, and climate action.
“While farmers are very angry and frustrated with the EU Commission over the Mercosur trade deal, overall it has been important to have a strong Irish voice steering agricultural policy at EU level,” he said.
Stressing that farmers expect Mr Hogan to make a very strong case for CAP funding, he said the advantage and experience of holding a second term as a commissioner must be maximised.
Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association president Pat McCormack said Mr Hogan, whatever portfolio he receives, must ensure that the key challenges faced by EU farmers become central priorities for the new commission.
“Farmers are rightly and justifiably concerned that big business appears to dominate the EU agenda and all other aspects including farming are secondary priorities,” he said, adding that farmers expect Mr Hogan to defend their position vigorously.