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Minister Smith Addresses Oxford Farming Conference

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today addressed the Oxford Farming Conference.  Speaking on "Steering Irish Agriculture through the economic downturn" the Minister said "the continued development of our agri-food sector is central to our plan for economic recovery.  Whilst 2009 was a difficult year for the sector it has shown a remarkable turnaround in the year just passed.  Recent advance estimates of Input, Output & Income for 2010, compiled by the CSO, show a €737m increase in farm output compared to 2009."  The Minister highlighted the role of farming in the stewardship of the natural landscape and in providing a sound platform for the continued economic, environmental and social sustainability of rural Ireland.

The Minister referred to the Food Harvest 2020 report published last year which is an ambitious but realistic strategy for smart, green growth in the Irish agri-food sector over the next ten years.  It will play a huge part in our national economic recovery and to that effect it was incorporated in our national recovery plan announced last November.  The Minister said "in that connection the CAP will be a key instrument underpinning the ambitions of our strategy. The negotiations on the future CAP are therefore of enormous importance for Ireland". The Minister again called for a direct payments system which would provide a fair share of funding and that would support the viability of Irish farming and reiterated his vision for a future CAP which is grounded on competitiveness and sustainability.

Looking to the CAP of the future Minister Smith said his aim is "to make sure that it;

  • Supports farm incomes and addresses the issue of price and income volatility, while avoiding market distortions
  • Encourages competitiveness and innovation through appropriate measures, including support for farm investment, and
  • Promotes sustainability, in all its dimensions, and rewards farmers for the public goods they produce."

Speaking of the recent Communication from the Commission on the CAP, the Minister said "I view this Communication as a first step in what will be a lengthy process of negotiations. Over the coming months, we will discuss the Communication in greater detail with a view to agreeing conclusions on the general orientation of policy for the CAP after 2013, before the legislative proposals, due next July are framed."

Date Released: 05 January 2011