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Ireland is planning a big increase in milk output once quotas are lifted in 2015 as the government places food at the heart of an export led growth strategy, according to dairyreporter.com.

The report quotes Irish agriculture minister Brendan Smith, saying: “The ending of milk quotas in 2015 represents an exceptional opportunity to grow our milk output by an estimated 50%.”

Smith made the comment on the basis of the conclusions reached in the Food Harvest report, which had been drawn up by a committee of industry leaders led by Irish Dairy Board chief executive at Dr Sean Brady.

The Irish government has expressed a keen desire to pursue export-led growth and it sees the agri-food sector as a key pillar in this strategy.

The Irish government says population growth and the abolition of EU milk quotas gives the Irish food sector significant opportunities for growth.

Smith says the new Food Harvest report has shown that Ireland can grow its food and beverage exports over 40% by 2020. And a move away from milk quotas at an EU level offers particularly strong opportunities for growth in the dairy sector.

Michael Barry, director of the Irish Dairy Industries Association, adds that in a more competitive dairy marketplace Ireland stands to benefit from a good low-cost production base although consolidation is called for at the processing level.

Barry told DairyReporter.com that whether the tremendous growth opportunities for the Irish dairy sector are realised over the next ten years will depend to a great extent on outside factors.

Another slump in global prices could jeopardise export growth and there are other uncertainties facing the industry like how to square the ambitious expansion goals with equally ambitious carbon emission targets. A lot may depend on how government policies are implemented.

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