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Minister Smith visits the Annual Open Day of the Backweston Crop Variety Evaluation Centre

Brendan Smith TD, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food today visited the Annual Open Day of the Department's Crop Variety Evaluation Centre located at Backweston, Celbridge, Co. Kildare.

Representatives from the Irish Seed Trade Association and the wider seed sector were present to view the Crop Evaluation and Certification programme.  The programme involves the evaluation of a wide range of new crop varieties and comprehensive quality control of certified seed produced in Ireland.   The Minister said that "this certification process speaks well for the future of the sector and provides robust assurance to commercial cereal grower".

The Minister also complimented the Irish Seed Trade Association saying "the Association plays a huge role in the development of a very competitive cereals industry in Ireland through its strong commitment to certified seed of Irish origin, suited to Irish conditions and with full traceability".

In referring to changes in farming practices over the last number of decades, the Minister said that "despite the changes to farming practices brought about by environmental constraints and the economics of production, yield capacity remains a critical factor in successful cereal farming. Over the last 30 years in particular, average national cereal yields have increased by a remarkable 50% or more. This progress is directly due to the availability of new superior varieties, allied to consolidation in the tillage sector and underpinned by high quality professional agronomic advice. Irish yields are now among the highest in the world and this is a testimony to the cereals industry and all those involved in it."

In summing up the Minister said that it was "important to acknowledge the role specialist advice has played in increasing output on tillage farms. This advice has been backed up by a comprehensive range of demonstration farms and open days. Teagasc and my Department have developed a series of integrated open days on the Teagasc BETTER farms. In this way farmers can get the maximum benefit out of attending these events".

Date Released: 13 July 2010