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News : Irish Last Updated: May 17, 2010 - 9:24:57 AM

Call for government strategy that puts food sector at heart of Irish economy
By Finfacts Team
May 14, 2010 - 6:40:42 AM

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US Space agency NASA says Ireland seems beyond the reach of winter’s icy grip in this true-color Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Earth Observatory image from January 4, 2003. The rugged cliffs that mark the island’s west coast are showing their red-brown rocky surface, but the low-lying interior region is still wearing the island’s signature green.

Food and Drink Industry Ireland, the IBEC group that represents the sector, today published its submission to the government '2020 Strategy' consultation on the future development of the agriculture, forestry, fishing and food industries. It called on the Government to deliver and implement a coherent and coordinated strategy with industry to put the food sector at the very heart of the Irish economy.

The submission expressed concern at the lack of policy coordination across the range of Departments that impact the sector. FDII said that this often had a direct and adverse effect on companies operating in the sector, undermining their ability to grow and compete in highly competitive international markets. The submission calls for the establishment of a high level group of senior officials from the relevant departments and agencies, working with direct industry involvement and coordinated by the Department of the Taoiseach, to tackle the problem.

FDII Director Paul Kelly said:
“The food and drink sector is Ireland’s most important indigenous industry. 230,000 jobs are linked to it through direct and indirect employment. It exports over €7bn of produce and it accounts for almost 50% of the goods and services sourced in Ireland by the manufacturing sector. The full extent of the supply chain, from farm to fork, is located here in Ireland. This means that both Government policy and the regulatory environment affect the sector more than any other.

" The industry can grow from €20bn output to €30bn, which will lead to the creation of many more new jobs. However, this will only be achieved if we have better coordination between government departments and agencies in how they support, promote and regulate the sector."

Finfacts has in the past proposed that the focus of innovation strategy should be on food  --  where there is constant demand everywhere and the potential for big valued added in Ireland:

Sep 2009:Ireland: A "smart" economy in food better than pie-in-the-sky aspirations?

Dec 2009: The challenge of creating 160,000 new Irish jobs

Apr 2010: Glanbia abandons goal to become world class food company; Sells Irish dairy and agri-businesses

The FDII submission calls for measures to:

(i) Support the growth potential of the food and drink industry through:

  • A revised strategy for public capital investment
  • The establishment of a manufacturing productivity competence centre, as recommended by the High Level Group on Manufacturing
  • More intensive engagement at EU level during the development of regulation and during trade negotiations
  • Enforcement and interpretation of regulation that is similar to that in competing member states
  • The introduction of a Government-backed credit guarantee scheme and a short-term export credit scheme

(ii) Restore cost competitiveness through the following:

  • Bringing electricity, waste and other input costs in line with and ultimately below the EU average
  • Full engagement with the European Commissions High Level Group on agri-food competitiveness
  • Linking taxation incentives to promote the development of biodegradable waste infrastructure that utilized agri-food feedstock

(iii) Support the further growth of innovation in the sector by

  • Completing the process of development of industry-led strategic research agendas for the food and drink sector
  • Enhancing the flexibility of the R&D tax credit scheme and adopting the recommendations of the Innovation Taxforce on tax measures to encourage industry innovation

“Having a vision of growth and identifying the measures to achieve this is one thing. Success for the food sector and the Irish economy will require effective implementation by Government, with industry involvement, over the life of the 2020 strategy," concluded Kelly.

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© Copyright 2010 by Finfacts.com

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