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Government must address challenges facing the agri-food sector – Colreavy

24 May, 2011 - by Michael Colreavy TD

Speaking in the Dáil this evening Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture Michael Colreavy said that the Government must address the many challenges facing the agri-food sector.

Deputy Colreavy said:

“The agri-food sector is one of Ireland's most important indigenous manufacturing sectors, accounting for employment of 150,000 people. It includes approximately 600 food and drinks firms throughout the country that export to some 140 markets worldwide.

“Given that worldwide population is increasing at a rapid pace, consumption is rising and food demand is greater than ever, agri-food exports are a large potential source of revenue for the country; since Ireland is seen as a rural, green island, there should be greater efforts to capitalise on this and expand our agri-food exports.

“There are numerous challenges facing the agri-food sector, yet it is one of the few functioning areas of the real Irish economy and it does have the potential not only to maintain employment levels but also to significantly increase the numbers employed. This is provided that Irish government and EU impediments are removed and support is given in focused and imaginative way to ensure that the Irish agri-food industry builds on its high reputation world wide.

“Sinn Féin has produced a comprehensive policy paper on the agri-food sector which contains some 51 separate recommendations. The paper was endorsed by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation and provides a detailed set of proposals which I believe are credible and have huge potential. I would urge the Minister and his Department officials to look to these and other proposals and also to Food Harvest 2020, to seize the opportunity to enhance what can be a vibrant and prospering sector.”

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