Coveney concludes US trade mission in Washington DC
Minister Coveney with Chief Economist at the Department of Agriculture Dr Joe Glauber
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney today concluded his four day mission the United States in Washington D.C. where he met with senior political figures and other key influencers on Capitol Hill.
The Minister was in the US to promote Irish food, including beef, in anticipation of the opening of the US market to Irish beef in the autumn. The sustainability of Irish grass based farm model was a key theme.
Speaking from Washington, the Minister referred to the critical importance of getting the Irish message across to key US opinion shapers in the context of the Trade negotiations (TTIP) between the EU and the US:
I am confident that for export focussed countries like Ireland, a comprehensive trade agreement with the US can offer many advantages, but only if it takes account of vulnerable sectors like beef. A balanced deal would also provide tremendous opportunity for increased agri food trade with the US, in particular in the dairy sector.
During the visit, Minister Coveney met with Wegmans, a major East coast retail outlet, which will be of key importance to Ireland in the context of getting Irish beef onto shelves in the US. The Minister also officially opened an $80m cheese manufacturing and innovation centre for the Irish Dairy Board in Wisconsin.
Concluding, the Minister referred to the critical importance of the relationship with the US for the Irish agri food industry:
Currently Irish food and drink exports to the US exceed €0.5 billion in value. Irish companies can increase that significantly, based on the high quality of their products, our strong and effective regulatory and food safety control systems. Also the work being done through the Origin Green Programme demonstrates the strong sustainability credentials of Irish farms and processing companies. I am delighted to have been able to play an important part in furthering that agenda with key commercial and political players in the US this week.Read the full press release here.