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Coveney Announces the Publication of the Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, 2012/2013

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD said that 2012 was a challenging year for the Irish agri-food sector, following two very good years in 2010 and 2011. “The adverse weather affected both crops and livestock and led to decreases in production in several sectors. Nonetheless, export growth continued for a third year in a row. The sector exported produce worth over €9bn in 2012, with the value of Irish agri-food exports outside Europe overall growing strongly, and agri-food exports to Africa now over €500m. My visit to China has been followed by strong growth in Irish exports to that country.

Over the least three years, exports have grown by 27% in the sector, which is a very welcome contribution to Irish economic performance in difficult times. The seafood sector showed strong growth, while beef also performed well. Some of this growth was in new markets, which is particularly welcome.  

However, there are challenges ahead. Ireland is a small open economy and volatility in world commodity prices can have serious adverse consequences in terms of lower prices for our produce or higher prices for our inputs. Recent trends show that 2013 will be very challenging for many sub-sectors as input costs remain persistently high and some of our trading partners continue to have economic difficulties. The future of the sector is also heavily dependent on the outcome of negotiations both within Europe and between the EU and other global economies. In addition the weather related difficulties in 2012 have continued into 2013, with consequential severe difficulties in relation to cattle fodder.

The agri-food sector remains one of Ireland’s most important indigenous sectors. The Primary Agriculture and Food and Drink manufacturing sectors together provide the main employment for roughly 140,000 people or 8% of those employed. There are some 1,200 enterprises of all sizes in the sector. These provide the primary outlet for the produce and output of family farms, which is exported to some 160 markets worldwide. In these difficult economic times the sector is leading the way in increasing exports and investing in the rural economy.

Much of the employment in the agri-food sector, both direct and indirect, is dispersed throughout the country making it particularly important to rural areas. Furthermore, the industry accounts for 69% of total manufacturing’s consumption of Irish raw materials and the low import dependence and the low level of profit repatriation in the sector mean that the net inflow of funds to the Irish economy is much higher than in other sectors.

The Food Harvest strategy calls for smart green growth that will map the future direction of the agri-food sector up to 2020, a period that will be crucial for the development of a dynamic and forward-looking industry.  The Government intends to drive a very ambitious growth agenda for the agri-food sector and to increase the value of exports from the sector to €12 billion by 2020.  That means increasing the volume of primary production in Ireland by a third over the next decade and adding value to our food production of 40 per cent. We intend to increase milk production in volume terms by 50 per cent over that period. The successful results in recent years have been an excellent start to this process”.

The Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, 2012/2013, provides a reference for all those who are interested in monitoring the performance of the agri-food sector. It provides an analysis of the structure and performance of the sector and it quantifies the benefits EU membership has had in terms of budget and trade.  It also provides a view of likely trends in the sector over the coming months. I expect the agri-food sector to play an integral part in the recovery of our economy and the continued viability of our rural and coastal areas”, concluded the Minister.

The Annual Review & Outlook for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food 2012/2013 is available on the Department’s website at You can download this to your phone by using the QR code on the front page. In addition to the usual printable version, a web-friendly version is also being provided to facilitate users who don’t require the whole document or who don’t have access to a printer.

Additionally, The Department is pleased to announce the publication of the 2013 edition of the Compendium of Irish Agricultural Statistics, compiled by the Economics and Planning Division of the Department. This is the first update of this comprehensive set of agriculture related statistics since 2008.              

Date Released: 24 May 2013