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Coughlan addresses first meeting of Beef Forum

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today addressed the first meeting of the Beef Forum which she established to examine the sector in the light of the opportunities and challenges facing it and to consider appropriate responses and initiatives. The Forum comprises representatives of producers, processors, relevant state agencies as well as independent experts.

Minister Coughlan said that the beef sector is hugely important within the overall Irish food industry and the Government has reflected this in its commitments both at farm and processing levels. She said that the recent Capital Investment Programme of €50 million to cover investment in the beef and sheepmeat processing sector is expected to trigger €120m of investment. In addition a new Suckler Welfare Scheme worth €250m over five years is a further investment in the raw material base of this crucial industry. She also referred to the enhanced beef promotion effort from Bord Bia aimed at building further on the huge EU marketing successes in recent years and to the Market Access Group which is charged with the reopening and full exploitation of other markets for Irish beef.

Minister Coughlan said "It is crucial that the industry be equipped to deal with the various changes taking place in the sector and position itself to capitalise on opportunities. Given the significant changes in the international food environment in the recent past, it is timely that the sector be looked at again to ensure that it was positioned not only to withstand any threats but also to avail of new opportunities which may present themselves."

Commenting on the need to continue to respond to sectoral developments, Minister Coughlan stated "The industry has proven itself very adept at responding to the marketing opportunities presented by evolving market demands and consumers trends in the past. The one inevitability in this evolving market is change and while the outlook for the sector is generally good, it will continue to face changes, some welcome, some more challenging and I am confident that the Forum will point the way to future development."

Concluding the Minister thanked the representatives who had agreed to participate and looked forward to the outcome of their deliberations.

Members of the Beef Forum

Jim Beecher

Kevin Kinsella

Michael Doran

John Enright

Martin McMahon

Malcolm Thompson

Sean Scully

Mark Connors

Ray Doyle

Brian Wickham

Edward O'Riordan

Gerard Brickley
Bord Bia

Derek Breen
Enterprise Ireland

Ciaran Fitzgerald
Meat Industry Ireland

Niall Browne
Meat Industry Ireland

John Horgan
Meat Industry Ireland

Finbarr McDonnell
Meat Industry Ireland

Paddy Moore
Independent Expert

Mick Cronin
Dept. of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Ignatius Byrne
Dept. of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Séamus O'Flaherty/Brid O'Higgins

Date Released: 05 March 2008