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Minister urges new direction for Irish Agri-Food Sector "New thinking is needed - more of the same will not be enough"

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, has said that "a new direction is needed for the Irish agri-food sector.  New thinking is needed on what needs to be done. More of the same will not be enough."

Minister Smith was speaking at the IFA Forum - Harnessing Farming, Food & the Green Economy - where he confirmed that a new strategy for the development of the agri-food and fishing sector for the period up to 2020 is currently being developed and indicated that he expects it to be completed around the middle of next year and said that "it will set out what is needed to reposition Irish farming and food for growth."

The Minister said he was "particularly pleased that a number of the chief executives of major food companies share the view that there is a need for a long-term strategic plan for the future of the industry, for which there is so much potential, especially given the projections for population growth over the next few decades."

Minister Smith said that his Department and five State Agencies - Bord Bia, Teagasc, Enterprise Ireland, BIM and the Marine Institute - have been jointly involved in the preparation of a series of papers on the main sectors, which will give an informed basis to a web based public consultation process and request for submissions, which it is hopes to initiate this by the end of this month.

Minister Smith invited all those with a stake in the Irish agri-food sector, particularly those who had participated at the Forum, "to participate actively in the process, which I hope will stimulate debate and provide some answers.  There are no easy answers, but I am convinced that unless this new strategy for 2020 gives concrete direction to the industry as a whole, it will be a lost opportunity to maximise the potential of the sector, and this opportunity may not arise again."

Date Released: 04 November 2009