A public consultation to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to play a key role in shaping the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy in Ireland over the next seven years will be launched shortly by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Minister of State Tom Hayes confirmed the move in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, yesterday, when opening a conference on the expansion of the dairy industry, organised by Dairy Ireland, which represents farmer discussion groups
He said the political agreement reached on a reformed CAP provides critical certainty and stability for farmers across Europe over the next seven years.
It provides for Irish farmers a budget of almost €11 billion in EU funds for direct payments and rural development schemes.
Mr Hayes said there is a tremendous opportunity for expansion and development of the Irish dairy sector after the abolition of quotas, but there is no room for complacency.
In order to reach its undoubted potential, the sector will need to sharpen its focus on improving competitiveness at home and on growing market share in existing markets in Britain, Europe and the United States.
The industry will also need to accelerate growth in exciting new markets in Russia, the Middle East, Africa and China, and continue to focus on delivering a high quality product, supported by the highest standards of food safety and environmental sustainability.
Referring to Ireland’s natural advantages in terms of its brand image, the Minister said it was critically important that operators in the sector continued to work hard to ensure that the quality and safety of its market offering continued to live up to this brand image.
In this regard, he said the work underway to develop a dairy quality and sustainability programme for the sector was of critical importance, and could bring a real added value and a unique selling point for Irish dairy products in the international market place.
Mr Hayes told the conference there is a tremendous positivity and momentum in the dairy sector at present. The expansion train had left the station, but the sector must keep its eyes on the tracks.
He predicted the industry will be transformed and more sustainable into the future, provided it avoids complacency, and continues to do what is necessary to improve efficiency and quality.
Mr Hayes said the industry can make an even more significant contribution to Ireland’s economic growth, to employment, and to the livelihoods of people in rural Ireland.
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