The AgriFood Business Partners' meeting of banks, processors and farmers is taking place in Dublin today. They are all here to talk about a medium term approach to sustainable investment in the Irish agrifood sector up to 2020, including the opportunities, challenges and developments. One of the main areas of focus is the dairy sector, which is gearing up for massive growth when milk quotas are abolished next year. 

AgriFood Business Partners' Cathal Fitzgerald says that the meeting is taking place against the backdrop of the Government's 2020 plan which is targeting substantial growth in the sector. 50% growth is predicted for the dairy sector, with strong growth also seen in the beef and sheepmeat sectors. A key issue affecting farmers is the availability of credit, Mr Fitzgerald says, while farmers also have to invest their money in sustainable farming methods. But he adds that the global fundamentals for farming are positive.

Farmer Michael Doran is in the process of converting his farm to dairy and he says he made the decision to make such a move due to the abolition of the milk quotas. He says that dairy farming has always offered the best security to farmers. Mr Doran also said that he needed a good bit of investment to build a new milking parlour, but he is confident that when the milk quotas are gone, he will see a return on his investment. He says he also hopes to generate more employment on his farm as he focuses on his dairy herd.

MORNING BRIEFS - Reports say that Satya Nadella, who is in charge of Microsoft's cloud and enterprise division, is likely to be named successor to Steve Ballmer as chief executive at Microsoft, within days. The board has not yet met to make the formal selection. He would be the company's third leader in its 39-year history. 

*** Internet search giant Google, which has almost 3,000 staff in Dublin, last night reported profits of $3.38 billion for the last three months of its financial year, up 17% from a year earlier, because of stronger ad sales. In a statement, its chief executive Larry Page said Google ended 2013 with another great three months of momentum and growth. But the company reported a much bigger loss of $384m in its Motorola Mobility unit, compared to $152m in 2012. Google announced the surprise sale of that business late on Wednesday to Chinese computer maker Lenovo for $2.91 billion. News of that deal caused Google shares to jump yesterday, because the unit was seen as a drag on the firm's profits. Shares in Google were flat after the earnings were released, but are more than 50% higher than they were last year.

***Amazon, which also has Irish operations, saw its shares fall more than 10% last night after it reported net profits of $239m for the three months ending 31st December, missing expectations. Profits were up $97m from a year earlier, after the company saw a lots of shopping over Christmas. Amazon reported sales of $25.5 billion - a 20% increase from a year earlier - but also below analyst expectations.

*** Japan's consumer prices have risen at their fastest pace in more than five years. This marks progress in the country's battle against deflation. Data showed that core consumer prices, excluding fresh food, rose by 1.3% in December from a year earlier. that beat forecasts. The latest figures are a boost for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has pledged to end 15 years of falling prices and revive economic growth.