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'New Positivity Around Irish Agriculture and Food, Sector has Major Role to Play in Driving Economic Recovery' - Coveney

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today spoke of his delight at being appointed Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, given his 'strong background and in interest in agriculture'. The Minister welcomed the 'new positivity around agriculture and food and the increasing realisation about the role the sector can play in driving economic recovery'.

In a wide-ranging address to the AGM of the Agriculture Consultants Association, Minister Coveney said that, during his first two weeks in office he had taken the opportunity to express his "strongly-held views" on the future of the Common Agriculture Policy and the ongoing trade negotiations between the EU and the Mercosur group of countries.

In relation to the CAP, the Minister reiterated his commitment to defend Ireland's current allocation of CAP funds and reassured his audience of his 'absolute determination to engage positively with our European colleagues and the EU Commission to ensure that Ireland's interests are protected'.

Following his first meeting of the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers in Brussels, an important meeting with the French Agriculture Minister in Paris and the Spanish Agriculture Minister in Madrid, Minister Coveney expressed his 'profound reservations' about the trade negotiations between the EU and the Mercosur group of countries. Referring to the economic challenge facing the country, the Minister confirmed that the Government is 'committed to achieving the savings targets set out in the National Recovery Plan', which means that he "will have to achieve savings of a further €120 million in the years to 2014, beginning with €60 million in 2012 and a further €40 million and €20 million in the following two years".

Minister Coveney said that he had "already commenced a review of all aspects of my Department's spending and that of their agencies" and that "no area of expenditure can be exempted from that review and choices will have to made in order that the necessary savings can be achieved, while maintaining strong supports for the sector".

Date Released: 25 March 2011