In outlining his priorities for the remainder of his term in office the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney has said that we are now entering what will be a critical and exciting time for the agri-food sector.

In particular, he noted that the coming year will see the transition to the new Common Agricultural Policy and the rollout of the new Rural Development Programme which will deliver a vital injection of strategic investment into rural communities and provide essential supports for family farms.

“The new CAP will provide the basis for delivering on the overall objectives of the Food Harvest 2020 strategy. Building on the significant progress already achieved under FH2020, I am firmly committed to delivering on the FH2020 plan and ensuring that all sectors within the agri-food sector benefit from the growth envisaged in output under the strategy.

The following table illustrates the progress achieved on the three headline targets as well as the current position in each of the main agricultural sectors.Food harvest 2020 so far

“Central to this is the fundamental importance of providing a valuable market for the output of farming sector across the range of activities.”

The Minister stated that: “It is in this context, the ending of dairy quotas in 2015 provides a very significant opportunity for growth and expansion and managing the transition to this change in market conditions is a firm focus for me.

On the beef sector he said: “I am very cognisant of the challenges currently facing the beef sector and through the establishment of the beef forum and other strategic measures being considered by my Department, I am focused on ensuring that the sector will overcome the current difficulties being experienced.”

Minister Coveney who is now over three years in the post also noted thet in tandem with the rollout of the CAP, the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy is a strategic focus. He said: “This presents many opportunities for the seafood sector and together with the potential to add value in the processing sector, the targets set out in FH2020 for the seafood sector are eminently achievable. The continued implementation of the Harnessing our Ocean Wealth Strategy will also prove essential to the wider economic development of the marine.”

The Minister concluded: “Overall, I am firmly committed to ensuring that the agri-food sector continues to contribute significantly to broader economic recovery and to build on the progress already achieved in terms of export growth.

“There are a wide range of other areas where work is ongoing and I will continue to prioritise these projects to support all stakeholders in the agri-food sector and the broad remit of my Department.”