Potential ‘jobs harvest’ from agri-food

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, recently launched ‘Milestones for Success 2012’, a report on the progress achieved in the two years since Food Harvest 2020 was published.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, recently launched ‘Milestones for Success 2012’, a report on the progress achieved in the two years since Food Harvest 2020 was published.

“This report showcases a confident and ambitious sector which is dynamic, outward looking and has achieved real growth over the last 2 years despite a difficult and volatile global environment,” said the Minister.

The minister also revealed that a new report estimates that achieving the Food Harvest targets could deliver 25,000 new jobs. “I am heartened to see the upturn in CSO estimates of employment in the food and beverage manufacturing sector which rose from 43,900 in 2010 to 50,300 in 2012”. This positive employment story is borne out by the recent report of a working group, established by the Food Harvest implementation committee, to assess the potential employment impact which could result from achieving the FH2020 growth targets.

“Recent analysis suggests that the growth in the agri-food sector could realistically generate around 25,000 additional direct and indirect jobs by 2020. This demonstrates the significant potential for employment generation within the sector and the real value to the people of this country of the expansion envisaged in Food Harvest 2020”, said Minister Coveney.

In presenting Milestones for Success 2012, Minister Coveney emphasised that the agri-food and fishing sector continues to be one of the cornerstones of national export recovery. In 2011, agri-food exports were valued at €8.84 billion, a 12% increase on the previous year. In fact agri-food exports accounted for almost a quarter of the total increase in revenue from goods exported in 2011. Volume growth was achieved in key categories such as dairy, beverages and pigmeat and this contributed to higher farm incomes.“None of this growth was easily achieved and it is credit to the all those working in the sector. This year is already proving to be a more challenging one and therefore we should never underestimate the challenges that can emerge without warning from climate or global market conditions, for example”, commented Minister Coveney.

The minister said Milestones for Success 2012 contained specific detail on key industry developments and set out the substantial progress made on the 215 recommendations in the original FH 2020 report, “action has commenced or is substantially advanced on 90% of the report’s recommendations”. The Minister pointed out that the report also illustrates the progress achieved to date on the main growth targets. “We have already achieved a 19% increase in the value of primary production against the 33% projected target for 2020, while exports have already reached 10% of the planned 42% growth by 2020”.

Minister Coveney said that “the agri-food sector must play a major role in leading Ireland’s economic recovery. This represents a unique opportunity for the sector. We must embrace the challenge and succeed”. The Minister acknowledged the hard work and commitment of the industry and thanked the members of the High Level Implementation Committee.