Ireland’s reputation for the highest standards of food safety and traceability are recognised by USDA, in approving Ireland as the first EU country to export meat to the US in over 15 years, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

The Minister spoke to both the World Bank and the School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University, in Washington.

He said that Ireland’s agri-food journey took us 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.”

Sustainability will be at the heart of the Agri-Food Strategy up to 2025, he said, which he expects to be published in July.