Prendergast Calls on Ireland to Exploit Agri-Food Opportunities

Labour MEP for Munster Phil Prendergast has welcomed the news that Irish
food and drink companies achieved record exports of almost €9 billion in

Irish agri-food exports preformed ahead of the Department of Agriculture’s
schedule as laid down in the Harvest 2020 report and achieved exports of
€8.9 billion in 2011.

“The targets set by the Department of Agriculture’s Harvest 2020 aim to
increase our agri-food exports by 42% by 2020 and set 2013 as the target
year for agri-food exports to first hit €9bn. Recent CSO figures show that
we are now two years ahead of that schedule,” Ms Prendergast said.

“Irish exports are making a vitally important contribution to our economy
and we must continue to build on these figures in the months and years to

“Irish agri-food exports performed well across the board in 2011 with
dairy as the star performer where exports were up by 24pc to €1.776m.

“Meat exports were also up by 15pc to €2.759m. We have also had positive
news about the possible reopening of the US beef market to Irish

“The United States Chief Veterinary Officer recently announced that the US
ban on EU beef imports, introduced following the BSE crisis of the 1990s,
will be lifted pending the outcome of a 60-day consultation process.

“Ireland, along with the UK and the Netherlands, has been cited by the US
Department of Agriculture as meeting all other health requirements and
could begin to export beef to the US sooner than other European Member
States once the ban is lifted.

“This represents another avenue to farmers to increase Irish food exports.
Our economic recovery will be export-led and every effort must be made to
allow farmers maximise their potential and create jobs at home.”

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