September 20th, 2023
Safe to say it was soft underfoot for the opening of the 2023 National Ploughing Championships yesterday, but as always, it was going to take more than a bit of rain to dampen the spirits at Europe's largest outdoor agricultural event.
I was on site in Ratheniska at 8.30am, and already the crowds were descending for day one of this legendary three day event. For me it was important to be there, flying the flag for both the Green Party and the various agencies under my remit as Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform, and I started the day off with a visit to KCLR explaining what the Green Party hoped to gain from being there. Was it a surprise to some people that we were there? Possibly. But as the Party asked on social media on Tuesday, where else would we be? The Green Party was founded on the principle that a healthy environment underpins our society and our way of life, and no one understands that reality, lives with that reality, and has a more critical role to play in maintaining that reality than farmers.
So for me, the Ploughing is where we find our common ground. It's where we have the conversations face to face that are so often misrepresented online, and it's where we build an alliance between farmers and environmentalists. Whether I was talking to visitors at the Green Party stand yesterday, or with my Department staff highlighting the opportunities that exist for farmers to work with us to advance our nature restoration goals, I wouldn't have missed the experience. It's a fantastic opportunity not just to engage with farmers and listen to their concerns, but to highlight the important work that's underway and the many schemes and incentives that are available to farmers.
On that front I think it was a really positive and productive day. Take a look through the gallery below for some of my highlights.