While personal financial difficulties are primarily a matter between the individual farmers and their banks, nevertheless, my Department is in regular contact with farm bodies, various national banks and the Banking Federation on a regular basis to discuss all credit-related issues. In addition, farmers who are not satisfied with the service provided by their banks can apply to the Credit Review Office to have their case reviewed.
Financial difficulties will also be alleviated by improved productivity, enhanced skills and higher prices. In that context, the implementation of Food Harvest 2020 has a major role to play in improving overall competitiveness at farm and industry level as well in maximising the potential contribution of this indigenous sector to economic recovery. Significant progress has been made to date on its implementation. Milestones for Success 2012 indicates that substantial action has been taken on 40% of the recommendations while a further 50% are being implemented. The workings of the Food Harvest High Level Implementation Committee, which I chair, and our close engagement with industry is ensuring that all stakeholders actively commit to its work vision and targets. As a consequence, good progress made on the FH2020 targets and that the value of both primary output and exports has increased by almost 19% and 10% respectively vis-a vis the relevant 33% and 42% target increase set for 2020. The latest figures from the CSO also show that, by end 2010, the value-added element of the sector has increased by 5.6%.