Irish food and drink exports have proved their ability to compete on EU and international markets. Meat exports (beef, pigmeat, poultry and sheepmeat) increased in value by €1.6 billion, or 76%, between 2009 and 2017, according to CSO trade statistics. This growth is driven by the strong reputation Irish product has in meeting the highest standards of food safety, animal welfare, quality and nutrition, produced in a sustainable manner. Developing new and existing markets, a key theme of the Food Wise strategy, is supported by my Department’s international market access initiatives and Bord Bia’s marketing and promotion work.
In relation to returns for primary producers, there have been a number of development in recent years in increasing transparency to assist stakeholders in making informed decisions. For example the 'Beef Pricewatch' app launched in 2014 makes the following information available to farmers free of charge and in a very accessible manner: the average price at national and individual factory level for Steers, Heifers, Cows, and Young and Old Bulls. In addition, discussions at EU level led to the development of the EU Market Observatory in 2016, which provides more transparency by disseminating Member State-level market data and short-term analysis in a timely manner.
Direct payments and other supports are also available for farmers under Pillar I of the CAP and the Rural Development Programme, as well as national schemes. For example, I recently launched the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) a targeted support of €20 million for suckler farmers specifically aimed at further improving the economic and environmental efficiency of beef production. As well as clear environmental and climate benefits, the BEEP will provide farm gate investment at a time of market volatility and uncertainty relating to Brexit.