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Minister Smith delivers positive message for Agri-Food Sector and says "we must play to our strengths"

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today described as "positive" the indicators for the Irish agri-food sector, both in the short and medium term.

Addressing the Agricultural Science Association National Conference in Galway, Minister Smith addressed a range of issues, including the current economic situation, the CAP Health Check and WTO.

The Minister said that notwithstanding the global economic downturn "the prospects for agricultural commodities on world markets are good" and described this as "good news for the Irish agriculture and food sector which presents us with opportunities into the future".

The Minister emphasised that given the difficult economic climate, it was important that we played to our strengths, and said that "global demand for meat and milk is projected to more than double over the next forty years. It is imperative that we make every effort to develop at the premium end of such markets and realise our undoubted potential to be a major supplier of quality food for the global market." Minister Smith said that Ireland enjoys "many natural advantages in food production."

The Minister described the agri-food sector as being "of central importance to our economy" and stressed the need for the industry to "place increasing emphasis on innovation as it gears up to meet the demands of an ever more competitive marketplace."

Date Released: 12 September 2008