Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney projects agri-food exports to grow by €12bn by 2020, but the IFA has criticised the timing of these upbeat predictions given the hardship facing farmers.
Mr Coveney’s annual review and outlook 2011/12 highlighted the sector’s €8.8bn exports performance of 2011, up 12% on 2010 and 25% ahead of 2009 levels.
Mr Coveney said: "The dairy and beverages sub-sectors performed particularly well, with exports from the dairy sector up by some 17%.
Some of this growth was in new markets, which is particularly welcome, and dairy exports outside of Europe are estimated to have reached more than €930m in 2011.
"However, there are challenges ahead. Ireland is a small, open economy and volatility in world commodity prices can have serious adverse consequences in terms of lower prices for our produce or higher prices for our inputs.
Recent trends show that 2012 could be very challenging for many sub-sectors as world prices decline and some of our trading partners enter recession."
The report predicted primary production in Ireland would rise by a third over the next decade and the value added by food production to rise by 40%. Milk production is to jump 50%.
IFA president John Bryan said farmers will be mystified that Mr Coveney is concentrating on what happened in the sector last year, given the conditions they are enduring at the moment and the effect on farm incomes.
He said farmers want the minister to concentrate on important decisions that can alleviate the situation.
"For a start, he must give a guarantee that farm schemes will not be cut in the next budget, as they have already had disproportionate reductions.
There is also an onus on him to arrange that Disadvantaged Area payments are made on time, and the 50% advance of the Single Farm Payment is made in October to all farmers, regardless of whether they are being inspected or not."
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