The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney set out his stall for the rest of his term in recent days.

He said the remit of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine is extensive and stated that the continued focus as Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine will be very broad and will encompass a wide number of areas of policy.

Responding to a parliamentary question about his priorities for the period up to the end of the current government, the Minister said he will continue to implement Programme for Government commitments. Working with all state agencies, through the High Level Implementation Committee, and private sector groups in furthering the Food Harvest 2020 strategy for smart, green growth of the Irish agri-food sector, he said.

Minister Coveney highlighted that 2015 will be a very significant year for the dairy sector, presented by the ending of milk quotas in 2015 and this will be a key priority for him and the Department.

He also noted that he has recently appointed a Committee to work on the development of a new agri-food sector strategy to 2025 and this will be published in 2015.

According to the Minister, the implementation of the CAP pillar 1 basic and greening payments worth over €1.2 billion to Irish farmers will be a key focus for his Department in 2015.
Equally, the approval and implementation of the new co-funded Rural Development Programme (CAP pillar 2 worth over €4 billion) will be at the forefront of the work taking place within the Department, he said.

Minister Coveney also said that there are a wide range of other developments taking place across his Department including but not limited to areas such as the new Forestry Programme 2015-2020, plant health, food and feed safety, continued development of the horseracing industry, trade developments, sustainability in agriculture, agri-food research, animal welfare and the continued development of an innovative agri-food sector which maximises its contribution to economic renewal and job creation.

On the marine, he said the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy, negotiated during the Irish Presidency of the EU will be very important, as will the continued implementation of the Harvesting our Ocean Wealth Strategy, through the Marine Co-ordination Group.

Minister Coveney said his focus as Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine will continue and he will ensure all aspects of his brief will continue to be supported and prioritised.