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Minister Smith launches three major reports on the Agri-Food Sector

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith T.D., today announced the publication of three major reports on the agri-food and fishing sectors, namely:

  • the Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food 2007/2008,
  • 2nd Progress Report on the AgriVision 2015 Action Plan, and
  • the Net Contribution of the Agri-Food Sector to the Inflow of Funds into Ireland.

"These three reports, in differing ways, illustrate the important work that the Government and my Department undertake to promote, support and develop the agri-food and fishing sectors which make a valuable contribution to the national and rural economy", Minister Smith said.

Agrivision 2015

The AgriVision Action Plan was the Government's response to the seminal Report of the Agri Vision 2015 Committee on what needed to be done to secure the optimal development of the agriculture and food industries. This Action Plan, produced in March 2006, contained 167 actions based on three key drivers for success, i.e. competitiveness, innovation and consumer focus.

Two years on, substantial progress has been made on implementing this diverse action plan with 93% of its actions implemented. The dedication and commitment of many stakeholders to this process has resulted "in an increase of 10% in overall food exports in 2006 with a further 5% increase in 2007, bringing their value to €9.2 billion".

Dairy products and ingredients were particularly buoyant and made significant inroads on the Asian markets, with the result that the Government's target of doubling food exports to Asia was reached two years ahead of target. The Minister praised the work done by Bord Bia and other stakeholders and indicated that this "was an excellent result and all the more commendable as this significant progress has been achieved in the face of stiff trading competition, rising energy costs and the strengthening of the Euro against the dollar and sterling".

Annual review and outlook

Commending the high standard of presentation and analyses in the 2007/2008 Annual Review and Outlook, the Minister noted that €2007 was a good year overall for the agriculture sector and that a solid market environment existed for most commodities with farm gate prices rising in a number of areas. The dairy sector performed well and cereals experienced an exceptional year with output value up by over 50% on 2006. Furthermore direct payments to farmers totalled almost €2 billion and total public expenditure in the sector was over €3.1 billion".

Minister Smith emphasised that the agri-food sector remains one of Ireland's most important indigenous manufacturing industries accounting for almost 7% of GDP, 8% of employment, and 10% of exports. He particularly welcomed the analyses which indicated that the outlook for 2008 remains solid "Year-on-year prices for cattle have risen significantly and while dairy markets have lost some of the buoyancy seen in 2007, they are still at relatively high levels and exporters are expected to perform reasonably well".

Net contributor to the food sector 

The third report is an economic estimate of the true value of the agri-food sector. The report shows that the agri-food sector, more correctly referred to in the report as the 'biosector', contributes approximately one third of the net flow of funds into the economy generated by primary and manufacturing industries. This is at least double the sectors' contribution to exports and underlines the importance of the sector to Ireland's economy.

Minister Smith noted the reasons given in the report for the sector's disproportionately large net contribution to earnings from exports as follows:

  • the import requirements per euro of 'biosector' exports were found to be lower than in the non-'biosector',
  • foreign ownership, and thus profit repatriation outflows, was lower than in other sectors, and
  • receipts of EU payments were almost entirely in support of agriculture and its exports.

However, the Minister found it interesting that the results are not dependant on EU receipts in any of the years from 2000 to 2005.

The Minister felt that the report provided "a timely and accurate indication of the importance of the sector to the economy".

The reports will shortly be available under Publications the Department's website at www.agriculture.gov.ie

Click here to view Annual Review and Outlook 2007/2008 & AgriVision 2015 Reports

Date Released: 30 June 2008