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Minister Coveney Speaks in Washington D.C. on "Ireland's Agri Food Journey to the Global Stage"

Speeches to the World Bank and John Hopkins University

Simon Coveney T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, delivered speeches at both the World Bank and the School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University, in Washington DC yesterday.

Minister Coveney traced Ireland’s agri-food journey from the Great Famine of the 1840s to today’s modern and dynamic agri food sector. He highlighted the importance of the Famine in Irish and also in American history through the waves of emigration which followed. For many years, even after Irish independence, Irish farms generally operated at subsistence level, with high tariff barriers creating huge barriers to trade with other countries.

When we see farmers in the developing world today struggling to produce enough to feed their families, that really resonates with Irish people in terms of our own history” Minister Coveney said. “It is one of the motivations for the Irish commitment, from Government and NGOs alike, towards the sustainable development of agriculture as a key to inclusive growth in our partner countries.

Minister Coveney highlighted the huge expansion in Irish agriculture in the run up to EU membership. “CAP gave Irish farmers guaranteed prices and real access to free trade in Europe for the first time. However, the CAP's original market supports system led to surplus commodity production which in turn resulted in quotas on production.”

Minister Coveney highlighted how the Irish agri food sector has evolved towards new and innovative food products, with higher value added. "Our Food Harvest 2020 strategy five years ago set out a plan for the smart, green, growth of the Irish agri-food sector. This industry-developed plan has been very successful in providing a vision and a road map for the development of Ireland’s agri food sector. I recently announced plans for a new Agri-Food Strategy up to 2025, which I expect to be published in July. Sustainability will again be at heart of this new strategy, and it will build on the very strong foundations laid in implementing Food Harvest" the Minister stated.

The Minister highlighted his ambition that Ireland should be, and be seen to be, a global leader in sustainable food production. He explained the Origin Green sustainability programme ( ) which commits the sector to produce more, using less. "I am particularly pleased that the World Bank is currently hosting a Bord Bia Origin Green Ambassador, Shane Hamill.”

"We are also making our Government sponsored expertise available to partner governments internationally" the Minister added, referring to the establishment of Sustainable Food Systems Ireland ( ).

"Last year, Ireland’s agri food exports reached a record value of almost $12 billion dollars. That’s about 10% of the value of US ag exports, but I think you will agree – a significant achievement for a country that is half the size of New York State, with only a quarter of its population.”

"Ireland’s reputation for the highest standards of food safety and traceability have underlined that success story. I am pleased that those standards have been recognised by USDA, in approving Ireland as the first EU country to export meat to the US in over 15 years" the Minister concluded.

View this Press Release as a PDF: DAFMPR 21/2015 (pdf 121Kb) 

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Above: Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, speaking at the John Hopkins University in Washington D.C.

Below: Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, with Professor Chris Chivvis at John Hopkins University in Washington D.C.

added 11.02.15

Date Released: 11 February 2015