NPA MD Anna May McHugh with Sabina Higgins. Photo: Lynda Kiernan
The wife of the President of Ireland has said she "thanks God for Laois" when she returns to the National Ploughing Championships.
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina spoke to the Leinster Express on day one of the event, from the horse ploughing fields.
Mrs Higgins praised the "golden fields".
"I have to say, I have a great joy in coming to Laois. It's the one place in the country where you see golden fields. Where you see agriculture, tillage. It's a joy to get out of the car and look and say 'thank God for Laois' and for the country, and the counties that do tillage," she said.
President Higgins told the Leinster Express "it's wonderful to be back".
"From the very beginning when I became President, I always start with the horses, they are the fundamental of the thing. It brings me back to when I was very young on my uncle's farm in county Clare. The matching of the horses, the people who went in co with each other. There's something great about it, it's good for people to feel the earth regularly," he said.
He agreed that farmers in Laois and elsewhere are under great pressure.
"They are under great pressure obviously. I think that younger farmers, men and women, will be changing their dependence on feed, because the EU's farm to fork policy of 25% over to organic will reduce that dependency. It's a way of life more than just a product," President Higgins said.
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