Fine Gael, once the farmers’ party, has lost ground and votes, particularly to rural independents.
Party chair Richard Bruton is addressing the matter with some urgency.
Leo Varadkar spent most of Wednesday meeting with delegations from most of the farm organisations.
It’s the first such direct engagement since the 2020 general election, and marks a post-pandemic cranking up of activity by Fine Gael in relation to agriculture.
There will be a landmark conference on Saturday 7 May, which I understand will feature many of the leading lights of the Irish farming and agri-food sectors.
In conjunction with that event, the party’s national agriculture, food and rural development committee will hold it’s first AGM.
The first-ever election for chair will be held.
Made up of farmer party members, it has been in existence for over a decade, and has been washing some of its dirty linen in the pages of a certain Dublin-based political affairs magazine of late.
Preparations for these events are being made by a steering committee chaired by Shane Dolphin, a Galway ag graduate, who currently works with Regina Doherty, the Seanad leader.
Added to this, a parliamentary party group is being set up, to be led by senators Michael Carrigy and Tim Lombard, to ensure all TDs and senators are up to speed on all things farming.