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Minister Smith addresses FAO 25th Regional Conference for Europe

Mr Brendan Smith T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food, today addressed the 25th FAO Regional Conference in Riga, Latvia.

During the Ministerial Round Table where European Ministers discussed a variety of issues including avian flu, Minister Smith said "Continued vigilance and the implementation of a sound risk-based approach is the best mechanism we have for dealing with this threat".

The conference also debated the issue of global public goods.

"Global public goods are needed as part of the solution to sustainable development, because problems that have traditionally been national are now becoming international. International co-operation plays a vital role in developing global public goods and Ireland supports the multilateral system of which the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation is a valued part" said Minister Smith.

Minister Smith also referred to the importance of public goods for agriculture from a national perspective and said "Greater acknowledgement needs to be given to the role of the EU direct payment system in encouraging the provision of public goods in addition to their income support function". This fact has been recognised in the recent Agri Vision 2015 Report and associated Action Plan.

During the visit Minister Smith also met with the Latvian Minister for Agriculture, Mr Martin Roze. He also met with the Latvia - Ireland Parliamentary Friendship group.

9 June, 2006

Note for Editors:

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations was founded in 1945 with a mandate to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural productivity, and to better the conditions of rural populations. Since its inception, FAO has worked to alleviate poverty and hunger by promoting agricultural development, improved nutrition and the pursuit of food security. FAO is one of the largest specialised agencies in the United Nations system and the lead agency for agriculture, forestry, fisheries and rural development. The Department of Agriculture and Food pays an annual subscription to support the work of FAO, which amounted to nearly €900,000 in 2003. During 2003, the Department also donated ?260,000 to selected FAO projects.

The FAO Regional Conference for Europe is held every two years to discuss the activities of FAO in the European Region. The 25th Regional Conference for Europe is being held in Riga, Latvia from 8th to the 9th of June 2006.

Footnote for Global public goods:

In its widest possible context global public goods means respect for the environment on a regional and global basis, clean water, encouragement of bio-diversity and respect for the country-side.

Minister Smith with Mr Roze, Latvian Minister for Agriculture

Date Released: 09 June 2006