Thursday, 9 May 2019

Ceisteanna (133, 142)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

133. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans for the future development of the agrifood sector notwithstanding Brexit or other challenges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20290/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

142. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the degree to which he expects agricultural exports to develop and grow in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20299/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 and 142 together.

Food Wise 2025 is the latest ten-year strategy agreed by a range of stakeholders, both public and private, and adopted by the Government as an overarching policy for the Irish agrifood sector. It underlines the agrifood sector’s unique and special position within the Irish economy and provides an enabling strategy that will allow the sector to develop.

Food Wise includes more than 400 specific recommendations, spread across the cross-cutting themes of sustainability, innovation, human capital, market development and competitiveness, as well as specific sectorial recommendations.

If these recommendations are implemented, the expert committee that drew up the Food Wise 2025 Strategy believed that significant value growth projections are achievable by 2025, including increasing the value of agrifood exports by 85% to €19 billion.

In July 2018, I launched the third annual progress report of Food Wise 2025: Steps to Success 2018. This showed that by 2017 exports had increased by 15.9% compared to the baseline.

As of Q4 2018, of the 375 detailed actions in Food Wise which were due to commence by 2018 or are on-going actions; 79% have been achieved or substantial action has been undertaken and a further 21% have commenced and are progressing well. This represents a 6% increase in target achieved over Q3 2018.

Market Development was identified as one of the key five cross-cutting themes in Food Wise 2025. It highlights the need to ensure that Irish products are targeted at the right markets and the right segments within these markets. The global evolving market environment presents enormous potential opportunities for the agrifood sector.

As part of the Department’s Action Plan on intensifying international market access, a new online international market access tool was developed. This portal provides information across some of the major export sectors of dairy, meat, seafood and live animals.

I have also led a series of agrifood trade missions to key existing and emerging markets; my Department's agricultural attaché network in key Embassies has been increased and I have provided significant additional resources to Bord Bia's marketing and promotion efforts.

Preparations for a new agrifood strategy to 2030 are underway. Its development will involve an analysis of a range of cross-cutting themes and the various sub-sectors of the agrifood industry, a formal public consultation and the establishment of a committee to develop the strategy.

Without pre-empting the work of the new committee and the eventual content of the 2030 strategy, it is clear that the cross-cutting themes contained in Food Wise (environmental sustainability, market development, competitiveness, innovation, and human capital) will continue to be highly relevant. It is likely that environmental sustainability, and in particular, the contribution that agriculture can make to climate action, will need significant consideration and prominence.

In this regard, my Department is currently developing a climate roadmap for the agrifood sector to ensure that the future development of the agriculture and land-use sector, including forestry, will be built upon and contribute fairly to Ireland’s climate targets. This will form a key element of the 2030 strategy. In parallel, my Department is also working on the development of Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan, which in line with the EU Commission’s proposals, will recognise that greater environmental and climate ambition is required. These important strategic and policy developments at national and European levels, as well as others in areas such as international trade and the bioeconomy, will inform the 2030 strategy.