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Minister Coughlan announces details of National Dairy Forum

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, has announced details of the National Dairy Forum she will host in Dublin on Thursday, 26th July 2007. The Minister is very pleased with the huge response from those invited to participate and is looking forward to welcoming the leading players in the dairy sector to the Forum and to hearing their views on the future outlook for this very important sector of the Irish economy.

Minister Coughlan will review the current state of the industry and reflect on the wider policy framework that may emerge as a result of further trade liberalisation and the forthcoming proposals of the EU Commission in the 'Health Check' next year. Dr Michael Keane, UCC will make a presentation on International Dairy Markets, while Thia Hennessy, Teagasc will deliver a paper on Competitiveness at Producer level, followed by a presentation on Competitiveness at Processor level delivered by Eddie Hughes, Enterprise Ireland.

The contributions of the various farming and business organisations, who will each have the opportunity to highlight the main issues facing the sector, will be key to an evolving policy framework that will help to build structures that best serve the interests of the dairy sector at producer and processor levels and address the key challenges in the emerging competitive trading environment. The importance of the processing sector and its overall contribution to export marketing, research and development, and innovation will be very strongly reflected in the presence of all the leading industry Chief Executives.

Driven by strong growth in world market demand for dairy products, the Minister said that there is considerable optimism in the dairy sector at present and returns to producers and processors have improved considerably in recent months. At the same time there has been a significant shift away from EU market supports.

Set against continued pressure within the WTO to conclude a new agreement, and the threats and opportunities that may emerge from the 'Health Check' proposals in the spring, the Minister said that "a comprehensive debate on the key issues will allow the sector to advance a coherent set of policy priorities that will secure and further develop our share of international dairy markets". She believes that "the conclusions of the Forum will help identify the key challenges faced by the sector and help shape much of the policy agenda that will facilitate the industry in achieving solid output growth and profitability in the medium term".

23 July 2007

Date Released: 23 July 2007