ICSA Ireland sounded a note of caution on the Bord Bia export figures published today. It welcomed the increase in the value of food and drink exports to almost €10bn, but warned that these figures are masking the impending difficulties facing the beef sector.

ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan said: “Despite the positive figures, realistically, it is highly unlikely that the strong performance of meat and livestock will be seen again unless we can solve the bull beef crisis.  If beef producers can’t get their bulls processed and there are no export markets for them, the news will be far from positive going forward.”

Meanwhile the ICMSA has also welcomed the figures.”€10bn is a key milestone for the Irish agriculture industry and for the next earnings of the country as a whole. All the stakeholders are now on the wheel and we are on the road to economic recovery.

He continued: “It is going to be ‘jackets off’ post 2015 and that extra milk will have to be marketed and the ICMSA is confident that there is a strategic plan in place for Ireland to purse these lucrative markets.”

On the matter of co-funding of the next Rural Development Plan (RDP), the ICMSA president said all indications are that it will be finalised next week.

“The Taoiseach is away at the moment and will be meeting with the Cabinet next week where we are expecting some ‘white smoke’ that decisions will be made on the next RDP. We have been lobbying hard and there is very little to do now but to wait and see. The indications are that an announcement will be made next week.”

The Irish Farmers Association also welcomed Ireland’s record-breaking agri-food and drink export. President John Bryan said it was further proof of the ability of the agriculture sector to play a central role in Ireland’s economic recovery.

“Today’s results also underline the importance of investment in agriculture and primary food production. Our sector is at the centre of the rural economy and will deliver jobs and export growth if supported. We are well on track to deliver the Food Harvest 2020 target of €12bn in food exports,” he said.

Bryan said a commitment by the Government to a strong RDP will underpin farm income, jobs and economic activity across rural Ireland. This is vital for balanced regional development in the country.

He said agriculture must be underpinned by strong support for farm schemes, which are crucial for maintaining farm families in vulnerable sectors and regions.