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Coveney announces publication of Annual Review and Outlook for 2011/2012

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has announced the publication of the Annual Review and Outlook 2011/2012 for his Department.

Welcoming the report, the Minister said that "2011 was another very positive year for the Irish agri-food sector, surpassing even the results of 2010.  Export figures show that the sector exported produce worth €8.8bn, an increase of about 12% on 2010.  In fact, exports in 2011 are 25% ahead of the levels recorded in 2009.  The dairy and beverages sub-sectors performed particularly well, with exports from the dairy sector were up by some 17%. Some of this growth was in new markets, which is particularly welcome and dairy exports outside of Europe are estimated to have reached more than €930 million in 2011. However, there are challenges ahead. Ireland is a small open economy and volatility in world commodity prices can have serious adverse consequences in terms of lower prices for our produce or higher prices for our inputs. Recent trends show that 2012 could be very challenging for many sub-sectors as world prices decline and some of our trading partners enter recession. The future of the sector is also heavily dependent on the outcome of negotiations both within Europe and between the EU and other global economies".

The Primary Agriculture and Food and Drink manufacturing sectors together provide the main employment for roughly 140,000 people or 7.7% of those employed. There are some 1,200 enterprises of all sizes in the sector. These provide the primary outlet for the produce and output of family farms, which is exported to some 170 markets worldwide. In these difficult economic times the sector is leading the way in increasing exports and investing in the rural economy. Much of the employment in the agri-food sector, both direct and indirect, is dispersed throughout the country making it particularly important to rural areas.  Furthermore, the industry accounts for 67% of total manufacturing's consumption of Irish raw materials and the low import dependence and low level of profit repatriation in the sector mean that the net inflow of funds to the Irish economy is much higher than in other sectors.

The Food Harvest strategy calls for smart green growth that will map the future direction of the agri-food sector up to 2020, a period that will be crucial for the development of a dynamic and forward-looking industry. "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 value of primary production in Ireland by a third over the next decade and increasing the value added by our food production by 40 per cent.  We intend to increase milk production in volume terms by 50 per cent over the same period.  The successful results of 2010 and 2011 have been an excellent start to this process. The Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Food and the Marine 2011/2012 provides a reference for all those who are interested in monitoring the performance of the agri-food sector.  It provides an analysis of the structure and performance of the sector and it quantifies the benefits EU membership has had in terms of budget and trade.  It also provides a view of likely trends in the sector over the coming months.  I expect the agri-food sector to play an integral part in the recovery of our economy and the continued viability of our rural and coastal areas", said the Minister.

The Annual Review & Outlook for Agriculture, Food and the Marine 2011/2012 is available on the Department's website at: http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/publications/2012 

Date Released: 27 August 2012