Farmer confidence waned bit by bit

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Farmer confidence waned bit by bit as each sodden month of 2012 slipped by. The seemingly never-ending winter that followed resulted in a huge shortage of animal feed all over the country.

Supplies of meat and milk suffered and there were concerns that Minister Simon Coveney’s grand plans for 50pc growth by 2020 were being permanently derailed.

But it appears that the agri-food sector’s output is more resilient than that.

Indeed, it is likely that the figures will continue to increase as the dairy industry revs up for a big jump in output. Its increases in output volumes have been limited to no more than 1pc a year for the last six years.

But that is likely to jump to somewhere between 5pc to 10pc on an annual basis when EU milk quotas disappear in 2015.

Of course weather will continue to play a big role in determining what the actual increase year-on-year will actually end up, but these last three years have been as good a test as any in terms of the ability of the Irish food sector to cope with weather extremes

It proves a point that the policy makers bought into when they rowed in behind the Food Harvest 2020 targets a few years ago.