Dáil Éireann - Volume 622 - 27 June, 2006

Written Answers. - Agrifood Sector.

Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the extent to which she has monitored the development of the agri-food sector in the aftermath of CAP reform; the most recent indicators with particular reference to expanding the industry in line with the requirements of a food producing nation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24974/06]

[996]   Mary Coughlan: It should be remembered that the introduction of the decoupling of agricultural direct payments from production only came into effect on 1st January 2005. This is a relatively short time-scale in which to evaluate the impact of such a significant policy shift.

Bearing this in mind, it is possible to provide an initial evaluation of the economic effects of this change. Last year proved to be very favourable considering its transitional nature. Aggregate farm income increased by 24%. This reflected the substantial once-off overlap in direct payments as farmers received €1.1 billion under the Single Payment Scheme and almost €620 million in payments under the old premia schemes. Agri-food exports reached a record level of €7.5 billion, with beef and dairy exports up 8% and 6% respectively.