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Minister takes Chinese Vice President to Dairy Farm

Minister Coveney warmly welcomed Vice President Xi Jinping to Ireland and took the opportunity to bring him to a dairy farm to emphasise food production facilities in Ireland. The agri food sector offers exciting potential for new export trade opportunities between Ireland and China.

The Vice President who visited the farm of James Lynch in Sixmilebridge was greeted by Mr. Lynch, his wife and their three children. He was then introduced to Minister Coveney and the Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, Mr Tom Moran. The Vice President, who has a keen interest in the agriculture sector, walked the farm and viewed the milking parlour, the newly born calves and the cattle grazing in the fields.  He was welcomed into the home of Mr Lynch and was offered an Irish Coffee.   

Minister Coveney said  "unlike milk production in most parts of the world Irish farmers produce milk from a grass based system which offers a unique selling point in terms of sustainability and quality control. Having the opportunity to bring the Chinese Vice President to a family farm in Ireland will leave a lasting and positive impression of the natural source of Irish agfood products."

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In a wide ranging exchange, Minster Coveney and VP Xi Jingping discussed the key priority which the Chinese Government attaches to food security and to increasing agricultural productivity. The Minister stated that "Ireland is renowned for its high quality and safe food production and was strategically placed to provide increasing volumes of quality food to China given the higher levels of increased production of dairy products, meats, sea-food and beverages that will take place over the coming years in Ireland". He pointed out that "infant formula is one of Ireland's biggest food exports to China, and that Ireland produces over 10% of the world’s total supply of infant formula annually and applies the highest food safety standards at all stages of its food production chain". Minister Coveney also referred to the strong links that exist between Ireland and China in the area of mutual cooperation in the agri-food and fisheries areas following from the visit last May of the Chinese Vice Minister for Agriculture Mr Niu Dun and indicated that "Ireland has learnt much from our engagement with our Chinese counterparts and we believe that we have much to offer China in terms of our expertise and technologies in the agri-food and fisheries sectors". The Minister also raised the issue of market access for beef which he hopes to progress when he visits China.

Minister Coveney then accompanied Vice President Xi Jinping to the Cliffs of Moher.

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Date Released: 19 February 2012