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Minister Coughlan calls the industry together in a National Dairy Forum

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, has announced that she will host a National Dairy Forum on Thursday 26th July 2007. The Minister has issued invitations to the main farm organisations at leadership level and to the Chief Executives of the Co-ops. The state agencies involved with the sector will also be present.

There is considerable optimism in the dairy sector at present driven by strong growth in world market demand for dairy products. Returns to producers and processors have improved considerably in recent months while at the same time there has been a significant shift away from EU internal market supports.

Against this background, there remains continued pressure within the WTO to conclude a new agreement, while at EU level the Commission will publish its 'health check' proposals next spring. At home, detailed rules for the Milk Quota Trading Scheme are being developed for the 2008/09 schemes and, in the aftermath of the allocation of the dairy investment fund, the industry is set to embark on a range of investments that will further stimulate the sector and improve its competitiveness.

In the light of these developments, the Minister is convening a high level Dairy Forum in order to review the overall direction of policy at domestic and EU level. The objective is to have a comprehensive debate on the issues to assist the Minister in determining her policy priorities for the coming period, particularly in regard to the 2008 'health check'. The forum will review issues that need to be addressed at national level especially to ensure that the dairy sector in Ireland is capable of meeting emerging competitive pressures.

The Minister emphasised the importance of advancing a coherent set of policy priorities in the dairy sector so that Ireland consolidates and grows its international market share in dairy products following from the changes that will take place in the international environment in the medium term.

4 July, 2007

Date Released: 04 July 2007