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Minister Smith confident about prospects for Irish Agricultural Exports

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr Brendan Smith TD, today expressed his confidence in the prospects for the export of high quality Irish food products.

Speaking at the Strokestown Agricultural Show, Minister Smith said that "the future viability of the Irish agri-food industry is heavily dependent on us growing our market share of lucrative continental outlets. Ireland currently exports 90 per cent of its beef output and 80 per cent of its dairy output with a combined annual value in excess of €3.5 billion to the Irish economy."

Minister Smith confirmed that an agreement has been reached to pave the way for the resumption of beef exports to Saudi Arabia and the Philippines, markets which were closed to Irish beef in 2000, following the disclosure of BSE in Europe. The Minister described Saudi Arabia, in particular, as "an important and valuable market for Irish beef to which, in the year prior to the closure of that market, Irish exports amounted to 25,000 tonnes, valued at some €33m."

Minister Smith also said that Bord Bia are intensifying their promotional efforts, particularly in our principal European markets and said that "this will build on the already well-established marketing efforts which are carried out on an ongoing basis by Bord Bia and the industry itself."

The Minister concluded by paying tribute to pedigree livestock breeders who he described as having "a vital role and indeed a huge responsibility, in leading the way forward for our commercial farmers in terms of producing the type of quality animals which our export markets now demand."

Date Released: 12 September 2008