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Ministerial Foreword

Brendan Smith

Brendan Smith, T.D.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

I am delighted to introduce "Schemes and Services 2010 - 2011" which provides a comprehensive outline of the services and supports available to farming, fishing and wider rural communities.

The agri-food and fishing sectors continue to be among the most important and successful indigenous manufacturing sectors in this country. There are some 120,000 primary producers who are the economic backbone of rural Ireland. The food and drinks industry employs a further 47,000 people as well as thousands more who are engaged in the distribution chain. Despite the global economic downturn, it is estimated that Ireland still exported just over €7 billion in agri-food exports in 2009 - of which dairy and related products accounted for €2 billion and meat and meat preparations accounting for a further €2.07 billion. Given its importance, geographic spread and export reach, the agri-food industry clearly has a very significant role to play in Ireland's economic recovery.

The Department's online application facility for the Single Payment Scheme was introduced for the first time in 2007. The ongoing annual further enhancements to this system, which has made the system more user friendly, has seen continued increase in uptake year on year. The numbers submitted each year have risen from 5% of applications in 2007 to 15% in 2008, 28% in 2009 and 34% in 2010. For full details of this and the other online services provided by my Department please visit www.agfood.ie  

My Department and a broadly based committee, representative of the major interests of the agri-food, fisheries and forestry sector, have worked on the development of a new strategy for the sector for the period up to 2020. The 2020 Strategy will maintain the impetus gained from the very successful Agri Vision 2015 Report and Action Plan. It was developed as a cohesive roadmap for the industry to build capacity, adapt to challenge and grow in the context of emerging opportunities in the decade ahead. It takes full account of new global and market realities, where agriculture and food are central to the major global challenges of food security and climate change. The report foresees a sector that acts `smartly' to achieve a competitive critical mass in the international marketplace and targets those consumers in key markets who recognise and reward Ireland's food producers for their `green' output. The compelling vision of the 2020 strategy is of efficient, environmentally sustainable production that delivers significant growth benefiting primary producers, processors and the food-manufacturing sector. Achieving this vision will allow the sector to play its part in Ireland's economic recovery.

The Charter of Rights for farmers has been in place since December 2005. The Charter builds on the progress already achieved under an earlier Protocol that was established in 2000. It sets out the service delivery standards and targets for the main schemes under which farmers can expect to receive payment.

My Department places great value on those involved in the agriculture, fishing and forestry sectors and their major contribution to the Irish economy. To assist them in their activities my Department has produced this booklet to provide a comprehensive guide to all of the schemes and services provided by my Department, from animal health and welfare, the numerous support measures that are in place, our food safety controls and many other services. I recommend that you take some time to read this publication and see what support or service my Department can provide for you.

Brendan Smith, T.D.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Minister of State Ciarán Cuffe T.D.,
(with responsibility for Horticulture and Organics)

Minister of State Sean Connick T.D.,
(with responsibility for Fisheries and Forestry)