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Coughlan announces establishment of Beef Forum

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., announced today that she was establishing a Beef Forum to examine the sector in the light of prevailing opportunities and challenges. The Forum will also set out a framework for future development.

There has been significant change in the International Food Environment in the recent past. Experts the world over are now examining the extent to which traditional supply patterns will be sufficient to meet the growing demand. Food producing and exporting countries are having to look again at their structures. Developments in the dairy sector and the cereals sector have been dramatic, to say the least. Minister Coughlan said it was in this changed context that we need to take another view of our beef sector and to ensure that it too is poised to withstand any threats and to avail of new opportunities which may present themselves in this new situation. The beef sector is hugely important within our overall food industry and the Government has reflected this in its commitments both at farm and processing level.

In making the announcement, the Minister emphasised the significant changes that had taken place in the international food environment in the recent past.

The Minister added "Since the advent of decoupling, the beef sector is totally reliant on the market. It has in the past adapted very well to change as instanced by its success in high value European markets. The pace of change is, however, relentless and the sector continues to face many challenges. These range from feed costs at home to increased competitive pressures from third country imports on our main markets. I expect the Forum to address all relevant issues and to come forward with a framework for future development."

The Forum, which will be chaired by Jim Beecher of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will include representatives of producers, processors, relevant state agencies as well as independent experts. It is expected to report before summer 2008.

13 December, 2007

Date Released: 13 December 2007