The era of rapid expansion in milk production may be ending, but food and grain production on this island remains well placed to take advantage of our unique advantages.

The food production landscape on this island has changed hugely in the 12 years that we have been producing the Agribusiness report in association with KPMG. It is worth taking a moment to take stock of changes seen in the industry since then.

The most obvious driver has been the ending of milk quota restrictions – a move which transformed dairy production.

At the same time we have seen a reduction in the number of suckler cows. We have faced, and continue to face, the challenges posed by Brexit and subsequent trade arrangements.

The reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy, which affect how farmers are incentivised to use their land.

Across the island the push to tie farm payments to environmental measures is only increasing.

Over regulation and bureaucracy continue to be the stone in the shoe for so many farmers. Irish and European farmers have taken to the streets of late to voice their concerns.

Supply chain problems and price spikes

The pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine both led to supply chain problems which caused massive price spikes for key resources. At both government and EU level, policy continues to push for farmers and industry to do more on environmental issues, while consumers are also increasingly focused on sustainability – but also affordability.

Ireland’s farmers and food processors have negotiated this period of change through investment and innovation. That drive for innovation is constant in every part of the sector as inflation means costs are always carefully managed while processors are on a constant watch for ways to add value and reduce waste.

Through all this we cannot lose sight of what it is that makes food produced on this island so special.

The agri-food sector, from farm gate to food processor, has carried out a lot of important work over the years to enhance Ireland’s image as a source of high-quality and traceable food and ingredients.


The sustainability of Irish food produce is aligned to the demands of major corporate customers as well as ordinary consumers. Ireland’s grass-fed farming system recently received its first protected geographical indication (PGI) for beef raised on the island in recognition of this. There is no question that Ireland produces the highest quality, most sustainable agricultural produce in the world.

We are constantly being called on to do more, and if the track record of the industry as a whole shows anything, it is that we will do more.

Farmers are willing to take on more sustainability measures and are constantly evolving and investing to do this. Markets are open, customers are waiting, and Ireland is ready and able to provide them with what they want.

We just have to make sure that policy, or policy mistakes, don’t end up crippling the industry when it is so well positioned to answer the world’s needs for highly nutritious, environmentally sustainable, traceable food.