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Strategic Review Report of 400m Euro Horticulture Industry presented to Minister Smith

Speaking today to key stakeholders in the horticulture and potato industry, Mr Brendan Smith TD, Minister for Horticulture and Food at the Department of Agriculture and Food, said that the industry has performed well so far this decade and now contributes some €400m to farm output, an increase of 17% since 2001.

Minister Smith, who was presented with a report titled 'Horticulture Industry Strategic Review', said "the horticulture industry contributes handsomely to a dynamic rural economy from both an economic and social perspective - it is an efficient industry, well positioned and operated by professional expert growers."

The Report, which was produced by McIver Consulting for Bord Bia, shows that the amenity horticulture sector grew by 50% since 2000 while there was a doubling in the value of output in the protected crop sector, with both of these together now worth around €120m to growers. The mushroom and potato sectors were the largest individual sectors and were valued at €106m and €110m, respectively in 2005.

Minister Smith said that the €40m or so in capital grants awarded across the industry to growers, packers and processors since 2000 under the National Development Plan has primed considerable investment in the industry. "These investments have gone a long way in putting the horticulture sector on a firm footing and we are committed to carrying on with this support under the new NDP," said the Minister.

The Minister said that funding of the order of €49m is being provided for horticulture producers and €8m for potato producers in the new NDP to cover the period 2007-2013. "A key element of this framework is the provision of grants that are strategically targeted which will improve the overall development and competitiveness of the sector and the McIver Report will be very helpful in formulating the necessary investment programmes," said Minister Smith.

Minister Smith said that considerable support was also available to fruit and vegetable growers under the EU Producer Organisation Scheme. Since 2000, twenty Producer Organisations have benefited from EU funding amounting to €24m. The Minister said that Scheme was currently being discussed by the Council of Ministers in the context of the reform of the Fruit and Vegetable regime. "My objective in the negotiations is to strengthen the role of POs whereby growers can use their combined strength in the market place to combat the power of the multiples."

28 March, 2007

Date Released: 28 March 2007