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Minister McEntee Highlights the Importance of the Agri-Food Sector

Speaking in Ballybay at Bank of Ireland Enterprise week event, the Minister of state at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Shane McEntee TD, stated that he was "encouraged by increasing recognition of the importance of agriculture and the agri-food sector". He pointed out that the food sector is spread right throughout the country and as well as large multi national companies is comprised of hundreds of small and medium sized enterprises.

Minister McEntee stated that it is clear that the agri-food industry will form an essential part in the country's economic recovery.  He pointed out that food production "is one of these things at which this country excels and it is, therefore, something on which we should concentrate and in which we should invest.  We have not alone a terrific story to tell, but we have an exciting story to tell - one full of enormous potential right across the various sub sectors of our main indigenous sector".

Minister McEntee went on to welcome initiatives such as Enterprise Week, sponsored by Bank of Ireland, as a useful opportunity which is beneficial both to the Bank and to local enterprises in the area and urged the farmers and business people in attendance to make the most of the opportunity presented by the event.

The Minister said that "Small food enterprises have the capacity to contribute significantly to the retention and creation of employment.  In our Programme for Government, we have committed to development of new food businesses through a series of co-ordinated efforts across the food sector and State agencies, such as building pilot kitchens to allow food producers to develop and manufacture products on a small scale".

The Minister added that "the Government intends to drive a very ambitious growth agenda for the agri-food sector and to increase the value of exports from the sector to €12 billion by 2020.  That means increasing the volume of food production in Ireland by a third over the next decade and adding value to our food production by 40 per cent. We intend to increase milk production in volume terms by 50 per cent over that period".

Date Released: 20 May 2011