The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, is today jetting to the US as part of a four-day trade and investment mission.

The US mission follows hot on the heels of visits to Ireland this week by US Secretary of State for Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, in which discussions on bilateral trade, beef access and the development of a sustainable Irish food industry featured heavily.

Building on this trade agenda, Minister Coveney’s visit will involve 16 meetings in three cities over four days. The Mission will take in meetings with major multinational investors and potential investors in Ireland and with a major US premium retail outlet, with trade in high quality Irish food products, including beef, firmly on the agenda. There is also a significant political agenda, with the Washington leg including meetings with the Deputy Secretary of State for Agriculture, Krysta Harden, and a number of key influencers in the US Senate on agriculture and trade issues, and key negotiators in the upcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment talks.

Speaking before his departure to USA, Minister Coveney said that the development of a positive profile for Ireland as a centre of excellence for food, fish and beverages production, and as a potential location for foreign direct investment, remained a matter of the highest priority for him. “Over the past two years, Ireland has succeeded in positioning itself as an important global player when it comes to the production of high quality food and drink. This success story is built on a foundation of sustainable, climate smart, agricultural production, and state of the art research and technology.   We have also succeeded in restoring Ireland’s reputation as the best location in the world for inward investment. This mission is about building the kind of key linkages, both political and commercial, that can further that agenda.”

Minister Coveney also referred to his meeting earlier this week with US Secretary of State Tom Vilsack, who met with him and visited Irish beef and dairy farms as part of a visit to Ireland last Thursday.  “We have already had a firm indication, that subject to a positive US audit in the near future, Irish beef could be on US retail shelves later this year.  In addition there is now a sense of momentum behind efforts to develop a transatlantic trade alliance between the EU and the United States.

“I feel strongly that a balanced agreement can benefit both sides. It can also help to build the kind of global consensus that will be essential if we are to meet the twin challenges of climate change and global food security in a world in which demand for food will increase by 50% by 2050. Of course there are many sensitivities on both sides, in particular in the agri-food area, including beef.  I am convinced that preparing the ground by building positive relationships with key political influencers and negotiators, can be of immense assistance in terms of developing a common understanding on these sensitive areas, and will ultimately lead to a more constructive negotiation and a more balanced deal.”