We’re depending on agriculture to get us out of this mess – Minister Coveney
AGRICULTURE Minister Simon Coveney today claimed Ireland's best hope for recovery depended on the agriculture sector's performance in increasing exports.
And he stressed that the trend in farming was very positive as sales abroad were set to increase by 25pc between this year and next.
This year alone the sector had grown by 12pc to a record level of €8.9bn and with the international market growing exponentially, Ireland's exports were now set to jump by 50pc by 2020, he added.
"I'm lucky to be coming in when fantastic opportunities are presenting themselves to the industry. I need to manage that the best I can and then exploit the growth potential," he said.
"My aim is to grow the industry and keep people on the land in disadvantaged, hillside and commonage areas," he emphasised.
Mr Coveney said people who had predicted the demise of support payments through the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) were proven wrong and he said that those payments would be frozen at 2013 prices, although he accepted they would not be indexed linked beyond that.
He said he had been very vocal in putting the Irish case for maintaining CAP payments to the EU Commission. "I've already met the Commissioner and his cabinet to discuss particular concerns," he said.
The Minister said Ireland would have assumed the Euro presidency by the time the CAP deal would be completed in 2013 and it was in everyone's interest that the deal was done in 15 months time.