The Minister reported that the Irish economy is in its second year of contraction, a problem that is compounded by excessive reliance on the construction sector. Ireland exports 80 percent of its output, which is double the EU average. Export-led growth will provide the jobs, said the Minister, so the country needs to be fully competitive.
Brendan Smith said that agriculture would be at the heart of the global economic recovery, and therefore support was needed for research, innovation and development. He was concerned about the power of the retail sector, and confirmed that farmers receive only 22 cents out of a retail price for milk of 1.15 Euros. This was an unsustainable situation according to the Minister.
Addressing the challenges of climate change, Minister Smith said that the production base of Irish agriculture must be maintained. Irish agriculture was very efficient, he said, and “you do not reduce the carbon footprint by moving agriculture to less efficient places”.