Written Answers. - Food Industry.

David Stanton

Question:

434 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the strategies he is developing in order to promote the food industry as a desirable career; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20722/00]

It is accepted that investment in human resources will be a key factor in ensuring competitiveness and comparative advantage in the food industry. It is therefore a critical element in the Government's support for the industry.

The philosophy for the development of the food industry is underpinned in the specific food-related initiatives contained in the National Development Plan 2000-2006 for which a total indicative public funding of £282 million will be provided.
A sum of £31 million is being allocated to address the human resources needs of the food industry. This funding will be administered by Enterprise Ireland, which in conjunction with other relevant agencies is currently drawing up an operational plan that will provide human resource development supports for food safety training, competitiveness and productivity improvement, management development, innovation management and information technology. Specific supports will be provided to meet the special needs of micro companies and firms which are faced with the need to train first-time entrants to the industry.
Attention to the research and innovative capabilities of the food industry is also acknowledged as a prime consideration in its development and this issue receives a particular focus in the food-related initiatives set out in the NDP. An indicative allocation of £83 million will be provided in respect of institutional research, in-company research and technology transfer which will play a significant role in assisting the industry in maximising its market orientation and competitiveness. Taken in conjunction with the initiative on human resource development, I am confident that these strategies will greatly assist the industry in attracting and retaining suitably qualified staff and contribute significantly to the vibrancy of this valuable indigenous industry.

David Stanton

Question:

435 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development his views on the continuation of export support in order to further encourage the development of high value processed foods such as baby foods, fat filled powders, cream liqueurs and others; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20723/00]

I am fully committed to the continuation of export support for the processed product sector under the EU-funded Non Annex 1 regime and have made this clear to the EU Commission and to my colleagues in the Agriculture Council. Under this regime, export refunds are payable to support third country exports of a range of processed foods including exports containing dairy products. The budgetary allocation for year 2000-01 for the non-annex 1 regime is 444 million. This allocation will provide continued support to further enhance the competitiveness of high value added Irish and EU products on third country markets.