Irish Minister for Agriculture Joe Walsh has called on farmers to take ownership of quality assurance schemes and not treat them as "unnecessary and unwarranted control measures". Speaking at the Speciality Food Symposium in Kinsale, County Cork, Walsh said they couldn't expect the department, Bord Bia or the general taxpayer to fund, operate and control the schemes. "Ultimately these schemes offer better returns for farmers in higher value segments of the markets." However, he added that although food safety and hygiene was important, he didn't want to straitjacket small suppliers with regulations. "I do accept that the legal requirements may place certain pressure on artisan producers and this is something I have already raised with the EU Commission." Walsh said speciality food producers played an increasingly important role and believed there was huge scope for expansion. "Ireland is recognised as a market leader in Europe but some good products fall down because of distribution or technical problems." He said he would continue to promote the cause to allow the industry to flourish. {{NEWS }}