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According to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, an action focus group has been launched to implement the recommendations of the Food Harvest 2020 Report in relation to beef.  This report, created in March 2010, was developed as a cohesive roadmap for the agricultural industry to build capacity, adapt to challenges and grow in the context of emerging opportunities in the decade ahead.  It outlined three key goals including the need to act ‘smartly’ to achieve a competitive critical mass, the need to capitalise on Ireland’s ‘green’ image and the need for efficient environmentally sustainable production that delivers significant growth.

The Food Harvest report calls for an increase of 20 percent in the value of beef output by the year 2020.  There are over 100,000 farm families involved in providing beef farming and exports of beef product is valued at more than €1.5bn per year. The increased global demand for food has been noted as a significant opportunity for the Irish agri-food industry and the beef industry can utilise this increased demand to flourish.

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Brendan Smith commented, “Our beef sector can position itself to take advantage of this opportunity, but this will mean acting now to maximise the market advantage of the ‘Ireland’ brand, to improve profitability and sustainability at farm level, and to ensure that the processing sector is configured to operate at optimal efficiency.”

The group has been asked to focus on implementing the recommendations of Food Harvest, to quickly identify the appropriate next steps and to engage with stakeholders and to report on progress to the Food Harvest High Level Implementation Committee.

The incoming group will include Chairperson Michael Dowling, former Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture and processors, farmers and members of Teagasc including: Niall Browne, Dawn Meats Group; John Horgan, Kepak; Finbar McDonnell, AIBP; Joe Brady, Beef Farmer; Paul Kehoe, Beef Farmer and; Martin Lenehan, Beef Farmer. Teagasc and ICBF will also be represented on the Committee.