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Minister Smith welcomes 'Strong recovery in the value of Irish Food and Drink Exports'

Minister Chairs First Meeting of Food Harvest 2020 Implementation Group

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today chaired the first meeting of the high-level Food Harvest 2020 Implementation Group. Minister Smith reiterated his commitment to lead and drive the implementation of this report and stressed his determination to ensure a fully joined-up and coherent response to the task of implementation. The Minister said that "in addition to the group which I am chairing today, I also intend to convene other formations to allow farmers, co-ops and food companies to step up to the plate and demonstrate in a practical way their determination to contribute fully to this joint national effort".

Speaking at today's meeting, Minister Smith stressed the importance of implementing over 200 actions and pointed out that export prospects for the remainder of 2010 are "extremely positive". The Minister said that he was particularly encouraged by that fact that "the value of Irish food and drink exports for the first five months of 2010, at €3 billion, was more than 8 per cent higher than the same period last year". Minister Smith said that this strong recovery in export markets, particularly in the key dairy and beef sectors, highlights "the tremendous potential for developing and expanding our exports with consequent benefits for employment in Ireland."

Accordingly, he said that the implementation phase is starting at an opportune time and that first meeting of the implementation group is being convened to both continue the momentum following the report's publication and to ensure that the growth evident in the first part of 2010 is built upon.

Food Harvest 2020 sets out "a cohesive, strategic plan for the agrifood sector to leverage the new opportunities that are predicted to emerge in the period to 2020", added the Minister.

Date Released: 16 September 2010