24 May 2013




The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD said that 2012 was a challenging year for the Irish agri-food sector, following two very good years in 2010 and 2011. “The adverse weather affected both crops and livestock and led to decreases in production in several sectors. Nonetheless, export growth continued for a third year in a row. The sector exported produce worth over €9bn in 2012, with the value of Irish agri-food exports outside Europe overall growing strongly, and agri-food exports to Africa now over €500m. My visit to China has been followed by strong growth in Irish exports to that country.


Over the least three years, exports have grown by 27% in the sector, which is a very welcome contribution to Irish economic performance in difficult times.  The seafood sector showed strong growth, while beef also performed well. Some of this growth was in new markets, which is particularly welcome.   


However, there are challenges ahead. Ireland is a small open economy and volatility in world commodity prices can have serious adverse consequences in terms of lower prices for our produce or higher prices for our inputs. Recent trends show that 2013 will be very challenging for many sub-sectors as input costs remain persistently high and some of our trading partners continue to have economic difficulties. The future of the sector is also heavily dependent on the outcome of negotiations both within Europe and between the EU and other global economies. In addition the weather related difficulties in 2012 have continued into 2013, with consequential severe difficulties in relation to cattle fodder.





The agri-food sector remains one of Ireland’s most important indigenous sectors. The Primary Agriculture and Food and Drink manufacturing sectors together provide the main employment for roughly 140,000 people or 8% of those employed. There are some 1,200 enterprises of all sizes in the sector. These provide the primary outlet for the produce and output of family farms, which is exported to some 160 markets worldwide. In these difficult economic times the sector is leading the way in increasing exports and investing in the rural economy.


Much of the employment in the agri-food sector, both direct and indirect, is dispersed throughout the country making it particularly important to rural areas. Furthermore, the industry accounts for 69% of total manufacturing’s consumption of Irish raw materials and the low import dependence and the low level of profit repatriation in the sector mean that the net inflow of funds to the Irish economy is much higher than in other sectors.


The Food Harvest strategy calls for smart green growth that will map the future direction of the agri-food sector up to 2020, a period that will be crucial for the development of a dynamic and forward-looking industry.  The Government intends to drive a very ambitious growth agenda for the agri-food sector and to increase the value of exports from the sector to €12 billion by 2020.  That means increasing the volume of primary production in Ireland by a third over the next decade and adding value to our food production of 40 per cent. We intend to increase milk production in volume terms by 50 per cent over that period. The successful results in recent years have been an excellent start to this process”.


The Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, 2012/2013, provides a reference for all those who are interested in monitoring the performance of the agri-food sector. It provides an analysis of the structure and performance of the sector and it quantifies the benefits EU membership has had in terms of budget and trade.  It also provides a view of likely trends in the sector over the coming months. I expect the agri-food sector to play an integral part in the recovery of our economy and the continued viability of our rural and coastal areas”, concluded the Minister.


The Annual Review & Outlook for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food 2012/2013 is available on the Department’s website at You can download this to your phone by using the QR code on the front page.  In addition to


the usual printable version, a web-friendly version is also being provided to facilitate users who don’t require the whole document or who don’t have access to a printer.


Additionally, The Department is pleased to announce the publication of the 2013 edition of the Compendium of Irish Agricultural Statistics, compiled by the Economics and Planning Division of the Department. This is the first update of this comprehensive set of agriculture related statistics since 2008.              


ACA Annual General Meeting 2013

Sean Kelly MEP predicts 2013 reference year at Agri Consultants AGM

Addressing the Agricultural Consultants Association(ACA) AGM in Dublin Sean Kelly MEP for Ireland South predicted a 2013 reference year for the new Single Farm Payment regime between 2015-2019.  With the 15th of May deadline for 2013 applications just past consultants in the audience were calculating the implications for clients. There is still and opportunity to amend an application before the 31st of May. The former head of the GAA was raised on a farm in his native Kerry and was comfortable in the agric environment explaining the role of the EU Parliament in finalising the ongoing EU CAP reform. There are critical dates coming up at the end of June where the Parliament vote on the reform, farmers and consultants will be watching and waiting for the final deal. The Parliament may cause the CAP to be reviewed on a more ongoing basis in future to due to the 5 year cycle of elections. To date the CAP has been reformed every 7 years.


President of the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) Michael Brady challenged members to be ready take up new work opportunities with the reduction in frontline Teagasc advisory staff due to the public recruitment ban. Of 572 advisors on the Dept of Agriculture accredited CC-FAS list 60% are now private consultants. Brady called on the Minster for Agriculture Simon Coveney to support a Public Private Partnership (PPP) between ACA and Teagasc to create the best advisory system in the world for Irish Farmers.  “We have the land, farmers, knowledge, research, and innovation so let’s go and put a sustainable system in place to disseminate the advice and meet Food Harvest 2020 targets”.  Other speakers at the conference were Peter Young and Justin McCarthy of the Irish Farmers Journal.       





  The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, at 6.15 a.m. this morning, after some 36 hours of negotiations, secured a new mandate from EU Fisheries Ministers to enter final negotiations with the European Parliament on a reformed Common Fisheries Policy.

 The new position drafted by the Council of Ministers is based on a revised 200 page compromise legal text which Minister Coveney presented to Fisheries Ministers on early Wednesday morning.

 Minister Coveney welcomed the support he received at the Fisheries Council saying:

 “This agreement follows very difficult and complex negotiations, it amounts to a significant compromise on behalf of my fellow Fisheries Ministers to allow further negotiations with the European Parliament take place to finalise the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in the coming weeks.”

 The Minister went on to say:

 “This decision by the Council is a major conciliatory step in the direction of the European Parliament and hopefully paves the way for successful conclusion of the inter-institutional negotiations on the reform. It is evidence of the importance placed by Fisheries Ministers on making this radical package of measures”

 The Irish Presidency has prioritised securing CFP reform before the end of its term and three-way talks between the Council, European Parliament and Commission will now continue with the aim of achieving that goal on the basis of this new position drafted by the Council of Ministers.

 Minister Coveney continued:

 “The Council has recognised the practical challenges of fishermen and the potential socio-economic impacts in coastal communities during the negotiations over the past number of months. I believe that the historical package agreed this morning will prepare the way for a European wide discards ban, facilitate more sustainable fishing levels in addition to appropriate management of fleet capacity and a workable regionalisation policy. It will provide the framework for the long term sustainability of the fish stocks around our shores and the continued economic viability of our fishing fleet and the processors and communities that depend on them".

 The package agreed this morning will allow us to rebuild the fish stocks in European waters and will allow for significant quota increases for our fishermen as we phase out the wasteful practice of discarding fish and see the benefits of this change in rebuilding our fish stocks and ensuring a better, and more secure future, for our fishermen and coastal communities.

 The Minister will this morning present the new compromise to the leaders of the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament and explain the thinking behind it.

 The Minister concluded saying:

 "We are under no illusions as to the challenges facing us with the European Parliament, however the strong compromise  mandate given to me today places added responsibility on our co-legislators in the European Parliament to show reciprocal flexibility to facilitate the successful conclusion on the Common Fisheries Policy, which is the objective of both institutions."


Minister Reminds Farmers of Closing Date Under the 2013 SPS




The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD, today reminded farmers that the closing date for receipt of applications under the 2013 Single Payment Scheme is Wednesday 15 May.  To facilitate receipt of applications the Single Payment Unit of the Department, based in Portloaise will be open to the public until 9pm  on Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th and until midnight on Wednesday 15th which is the deadline.

"It is vitally important that farmers ensure that they lodge their applications by this date, in order to avoid penalties that must be applied where applications are received late", the Minister said. "I note that the rate of receipt of paper applications is somewhat behind previous years. Given the significance of the Single Payment to farm income, it is imperative that farmers allow themselves enough time to complete the form accurately and make sure it's submitted on time. We are obliged under EU rules to apply penalties where applications are received late. These penalties can easily be avoided simply by ensuring that applications are submitted on time.

In an effort to ensure that the maximum numbers of farmers submit their applications on time the Department has commenced the issuing of receipts to farmers by text or letter as appropriate, as applications are received. I am confident that this initiative will increase awareness amongst the farming community of the need to submit applications on time”.

The Minister welcomed the continued interest in iNet, his Department’s on-line application facility for the Single Payment Scheme. "I am delighted to see that on-line applications under the 2013 Scheme are currently running significantly ahead of the same point during the 2012 campaign", the Minister said. "This is very much in line with the trend each year since the introduction of iNet in 2007, with increased numbers being lodged on-line each year. Indeed, there was a nine-fold increase in usage of iNet between 2007 and 2012 and, already at this stage in the 2013 campaign, the numbers lodged on-line are on target to exceed last year's record levels of over 65,000", he added.

"The continuing increase in uptake is testament to the recognised benefits of iNet", the Minister said, outlining that, due to the system of in-built validations on the on-line facility, the options for applicants to make minor errors on their applications is dramatically restricted. "Analysis of the issues which delay processing of applications show a very high percentage are delayed because of basic errors or omissions on the part of the applicant. However, it has been possible to construct the on-line facility with a series of compulsory fields and built-in validations, which dramatically reduces the level of these types of error, simply by refusing to allow the applicant to make the error in the first instance. Unfortunately, such an option is not available with the traditional paper application".

The Minister also referred to the on-line mapping option introduced in 2012, whereby relevant maps can now also be submitted on-line with the application. "This is further evidence of the ongoing commitment to maximise the use of technology for the benefit of farmers. This allows farmers, or their agents, who need to submit maps to my Department to do so through iNet, thereby dispensing with the need to submit paper maps. Indications are that there is an increase in the uptake of the on-line mapping option this year and this will be to the benefit of those who use it in terms of greater all round efficiencies in the processing of applications", said Minister Coveney.

The Minister confirmed that while an increasing number of farmers use the on-line facility themselves, most continue to avail of the option to have an approved designated Agent lodge their application via the on-line system on their behalf. "It was recognised from the outset that, in order to benefit the on-line facility, a system of approved Agents would help maximise the numbers submitting applications on-line. While there are various reasons why individuals might not be in a position to lodge on-line applications, the Agent facility is attractive to those who wish to avail of the benefits of lodging an on-line application, although not in a position to do so personally", the Minister said. "I would certainly urge all those who have yet to do so, to give it serious consideration. Don't forget, even if you don't feel you have sufficient IT skills yourself, you can avail of the services of an approved Agent, who will do the necessary on your behalf" the Minister said, adding "I would strongly recommend that anyone considering availing of the on-line facility to make enquiries via the website, or, alternatively, the dedicated Helpdesk at Lo-call 1890 252 118". The list of approved Agents is available on the Department's website, listed by county.

Concluding, the Minister referred to the increased usage of text messaging, designed to keep farmers informed on important issues and deadlines. "This development is, as evidenced by the issue of receipts by text to farmers as SPS application forms are received, another example of the use being made of modern technology for the benefit of all concerned", Minister Coveney noted ‘that there are currently in excess of 90,000 farmers signed-up to receive text messages and I am very anxious to increase that figure. This is an extremely cost-effective way of getting vital information out to farmers, with practical, measurable benefits to follow, as any reduction in the level of late penalties being applied benefits both the individual farmers concerned and the wider community".






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Investment marks a huge step in delivering the milk expansion agenda  set out in Food Harvest 2020

Speaking today at the announcement of a major investment by Glanbia Ingredients Ireland Limited in creating the largest dairy dedicated dairy powder facility in Ireland at Belview near Waterford port, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D. said    “This project is another critical milestone in realising the tremendous potential for dairy expansion, which is a cornerstone of the Food Harvest 2020 Strategy.  Step by step, and with a strong collaboration between Government and industry, the strategic vision for the sector is being delivered.    Delivery has been supported by coherent Government action to improve efficiency and reduce costs at farm level, to optimise the fantastic green image of Ireland’s sustainable production methods in the market place, to provide critical assistance for the development of new products that will add value to top class Irish raw materials, and to improve competitiveness at processing level”.

This project will ensure that a key part of the infrastructure necessary to support a dramatic expansion in milk production is in place when milk quotas are abolished in 2015. It has Government support and is a vote of confidence in the resilience and capacity of the Irish dairy sector which has built up an export track record in markets worldwide”.


The Minister congratulated the dairy producers and shareholders in Glanbia Ingredients Ireland Limited for committing to expansion through careful planning of investment and for focusing on value-added outputs.   The investment announced today will generate benefits across the food industry and the whole economy. It will generate in excess of 1,600 direct and indirect jobs. 

Minister Coveney complemented Enterprise Ireland (EI) and pointed to the strong working relationship between his Department and EI in helping advance the 2020 Strategy. He concluded by saying that the Government will continue to support the development of a strong dairy sector which is integral to the recovery of our economy in terms of added value, employment and export growth