Written Answers. - Food Industry.

David Stanton

Ceist:

43 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when the mechanical grading system for beef will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18922/03]

I am proceeding with plans for the introduction of mechanical classification. An EU regulation allowing for the introduction of mechanical classification has been agreed and is due to be published shortly. Testing of machines should commence in September and October, with a view to machines being operational by early 2004.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

44 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food his plans for the future development of beef, lamb, pigmeat and cereal industries, having regard to likely market trends and international competition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19094/03]

In 1999, I set up the Agri-Food 2010 Committee to propose a strategy for the development of Irish agriculture and food over the next decade. The committee, which was drawn from the agricultural sector and the food industry, published its report, Agri-Food 2010 main report in March 2000. My Department took on board the recommendations of the expert committee and formulated the Agri-Food 2010 Plan of Action, which contained 197 action points. The plan of action is a comprehensive approach to the future of the agricultural sector, envisaging a dynamic agri-food sector, and offering farm families attractive and sustainable livelihood options, thus maintaining the maximum number of people on the land.

In December 2001, I published the Agri-Food Implementation Report, which outlined the progress of the Agri-Food 2010 Plan of Action. In all 94% of the action points have been completed or have seen substantial action completed. My Department's statement of strategy and the plan of action contain commitments for overseeing the further implementation of the Agri-Food 2010 Committee's recommendations.

I have given a commitment, and it has been set down in the agriculture chapter in the new partnership agreement, Sustaining Progress, to re-examine the Agri-Food 2010 report and to update it in the light of developments under the mid-term review and WTO. I have also commissioned a study on competitiveness which was presented to me in October 2002. I am arranging for further analysis to be done in this area in the height of the more challenging international environment. On an ongoing basis I shall continue to pursue policies and operate programmes, both EU and national, which will enable farm families to enjoy living standards in line with general economic and social development and maintain an agri-food sector which is profitable, competitive, sustainable and innovative.