Video: ‘At least four’ trade missions confirmed for 2018

At least four trade missions will take place in 2018, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, confirmed today.

He made the announcement as part of his closing address to the Food Wise Conference in Croke Park today, which was attended by over 500 stakeholders from the agri-sector.

Addressing the conference, he said: “I can announce today that I will lead at least four trade missions over the next year, starting with a trade mission to the US and Canada in the first quarter of 2018.

“The European Union has recently concluded a significant trade deal with Canada and there is strong trading and cultural links to build on in that market.

“The US is, of course, our second most important market – with exports of over €1 billion last year. My department is working with Bord Bia and the industry to finalise the other elements of next year’s trade missions and I expect to be in a position to announce these very soon.

Our efforts will be deeply informed by the market prioritisation exercise that has just been concluded.

This follows on from the most recent trade mission where Minister Creed visited both Japan and South Korea during the month of November.

With regard to CAP reform – and following the address by the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan – the minister announced his intention to launch a public consultation in Ireland on the future shape of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) within the broad parameters laid down in the commission’s recent communication.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is expected to initiate this process early in the new year.

‘Environmental sustainability’

Commenting on the importance of environmental sustainability, Minister Creed said: “We have to do more to articulate the tremendous contribution farmers are already making to the management and improvement of the natural environment with the aid of the Rural Development Programme, and the efforts of industry through Origin Green.

However, we cannot allow any negative association between the sector and the environment to get traction – therefore, we all need to do more.

“I will ask the Food Wise Environmental Sustainability Committee to engage with stakeholders to identify and implement policy interventions, to ensure that our environmental obligations are delivered, and to report back to me on its finding.

“There have been some calls for a moderation of the Food Wise ambition in light of Brexit. However, I believe this is no time to step back. The targets set for 2020 in the previous iteration of our current agri-food strategy are on course to be achieved well ahead of schedule – and they too appeared optimistic at the time.

We need to redouble our efforts to deliver on all aspects of the Food Wise strategy. I intend to lead a step up in the work of the Food Wise High Level Implementation Committee to ensure that this happens.

“Today’s conference underlines the collective determination of all in the sector to achieve the growth and sustainability ambitions in Food Wise 2025.

“Our ambition is to deliver jobs for our people, maximise the incomes of our farmers, and protect and enhance our rural environment. With a collaborative approach, I am confident that we can achieve these objectives,” Minister Creed concluded.