Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, has launched the Annual Review and Outlook in the agriculture sector for 2019.

The review was officially launched yesterday, Sunday, September 22, with Minister Creed commenting: “A strong evidence base is essential for policy formation and implementation.”

According to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Review and Outlook document includes “up-to-date information and statistical analysis from a variety of sources”.

This year’s review includes sections on the agri-food sector and the economy; farm incomes and structures; agricultural commodities and inputs; trade; the environment; forestry; the marine; and EU and international policy.

Some of the key figures quoted in the review include:

  • Agri-food exports have grown by 73% since 2009 to approximately €13.7 billion in 2018;
  • The sector employs approximately 173,000 people, representing 7.7% of total employment;
  • The agri-food sector contributed 7.5% of gross national income (GNI) in 2018;
  • Payments to farmers totaled €1.8 billion, including single farm payment; rural development; and forestry payments;
  • Average family farm income for 2018 totaled €23,333;
  • 51% of farm households had an off-farm income employment source in 2018;
  • Irish exports of agricultural products accounted for 10% of total merchandising exports, and 11% of total imports in 2018;
  • The food and drink sector accounted for 39.5% of all export sales by Irish-owned companies in 2017;
  • The value of agricultural output at basic prices was €8.65 billion in 2018;
  • Expenditure on intermediate consumption was up 13% in 2018 to €6 billion.

The review also includes case studies on topics such as Irish whiskey; women in agriculture; the Clean Oceans Initiative; the increasing importance of third-country markets; the “changing landscape” of agriculture markets; and “social farming initiatives”.

Minister Creed commented: “The agri-food sector is Ireland’s most important indigenous industry. Irish food is produced by thousands of farmers, fishermen and agri-food companies around the country, providing employment for 173,000 people, and is particularly important in rural and coastal areas.

“In 2018, Irish food exports went to over 180 markets worldwide and were valued at €13.7 billion,” he added.

As a food exporting nation, the agri-food sector has to constantly evolve in response to major international policy developments.

“While the current Food Wise strategy has been instrumental in providing a framework for the sustainable growth of the sector, like all strategic plans, it must evolve and respond to rapidly changing circumstances,” the minister added.

The minister also highlighted that a public consultation for a new agri-food strategy up to 2030 was recently launched.

“We are embarking on this policy process against a background of considerable change and uncertainty…which makes it more important than ever that we come together to agree a coherent plan for the sector to 2030. The Annual Review and Outlook is an invaluable resource in this regard,” he concluded.

The document can be accessed here.