Smith uses show stage to defend funding for 2020
AGRICULTURE Minister Brendan Smith has dismissed suggestions that there will be insufficient funding to reach targets set in Food Harvest 2020.
Minister Smith said that much of the commentary in relation to cuts in Government capital expenditure had been inaccurate.
Speaking at Virginia Show in Co Cavan on Saturday, he insisted the capital budget was not the only money available to the agriculture sector.
"€1.6bn has been committed for the Department of Agriculture," he said.
"Our capital budget was made known 12 months ago, which covers the period 2009 up to 2013, and some of the measures in that have already been rolled out, so we're ahead of target."
Minister Smith announced that he is to head the Food Harvest 2020 implementation group which aims to grow the value of the agri-food, fisheries and forestry sectors by a third and increase exports to €12bn.
"I want to emphasise my personal commitment and that of the Government to the achievement of these ambitious but realisable growth targets," he said.
"For the dairy sector, which is so central to the Virginia Show, this plan targets a 50pc increase in output. This would enhance the value of primary output by €700m, as well as downstream benefits in the form of increased dairy product values, export earnings and employment."