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Coveney Addresses IFA Livestock Conference Coveney Welcomes Doubling of Beef Growth Target

Speaking today at the IFA Livestock Conference in Tullamore the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr. Simon Coveney TD today welcomed more ambitious targets for the growth and development of the beef industry in the period up to 2020. The Minister said that the Beef 2020 Action Group had presented its report to him this morning, and had indicated to him that the combination of the price outlook for beef and the actions proposed in its report could result in a doubling of the 20% output value increase targeted in the Food Harvest 2020 report.  He thanked the Chairman and members of the Group for their important contribution to the future development of the beef sector.  Referring to that report, Minister Coveney outlined the critical importance of the beef sector  to National economic recovery.

"More than 100,000 farm families are involved in beef production, with almost 8,000 people involved in processing, marketing and sales. Its strong export focus and the fact that it is employment intensive, mean that it has to be a critically important part of our national economic recovery".   

The Minister outlined the tremendous opportunities for Ireland’s beef sector arising from a rapidly increasing global population, increasing urbanisation and the westernisation of diets in developing economies:

 "These factors will lead to an increase of 50% in demand for food globally by 2030, rising to 70% by 2050, and the Irish livestock sector is uniquely placed to be part of that growth dynamic. However, we have to act smart, by properly exploiting the natural advantages we have in terms of grasslands and water, and by working hard to ensure that we can stand over what we say about the high quality of our product, the robustness of our food safety controls and the sustainability of our production systems. A brand image will only work if our claims stand up to the most robust scrutiny, and all of our actions must be directed towards supporting the excellence of our product and enhancing our already strong reputation on international markets."

Recognising the critical importance of the international framework within which the sector operates, the Minister underlined his commitment to ensuring that the current discussions on the shape of the Common Agricultural Policy after 2013 and the negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement with Mercosur countries resulted in the best possible outcome for Irish farmers.

"I am committed to ensuring that we have a strong and well resourced CAP after 2013 which suits the needs of the Irish farm sector", he said , "and to ensuring that the current Mercosur negotiations recognise the importance of supporting  a European Agri Food industry which produces high quality food,  meets standards developed on the basis of a European consensus around food safety and animal welfare, contributes to global and European  food security and  which produces food in an  environmentally sustainable manner".

Minister Coveney also acknowledged the challenges facing the industry on the domestic front. He emphasised the need for all of the stakeholders in Ireland to focus on improving profitability at farm level and for the beef processing sector to  increase its  efficiency, and its focus on innovation and product development to meet consumer demands and add value. 

He added that it was vitally important for the future development of the sector that farmers and processors engage constructively to build mutual confidence and to recognise their common interest in building a strong and viable beef industry that was profitable for operators at all levels of the supply chain into the future.

Concluding, the Minister welcomed the report of the Beef 2020 Activation Group.
 " I have already signalled my commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Food Harvest 2020  report. The recommendations of the Beef 2020 Activation Group, which are to be presented here today are another valuable step on the road to implementing that report. I welcome its ambitious target of 40% growth in the value of beef output. I look forward to considering its conclusions and pledge myself to engaging in a meaningful way with all of the stakeholders to ensure that the beef industry can grow and develop to its full potential over the next decade."

Date Released: 21 June 2011