Fianna Fáil TD for Louth, Séamus Kirk, has called on the Minister for Agriculture to provide extra resources for An Bord Bia so it can find alternative markets for the €232 million worth of food exports which are under threat due to a Russian ban on all EU food imports.
He commented: “The news that Russia is to ban all food imports from EU countries will come as a blow to the agri-food industry in Ireland. It is estimated that food and drinks exports to Russia were worth €232 million to Ireland in 2013. This figure cannot be dismissed by Minister Simon Coveney and his reaction that this was not unexpected won’t comfort farmers throughout the country that fear a recovery in the agri-food business is now threatened.
“If the Minister predicted that Russia may ban all EU imports then he should have put a contingency plan in place. This does not seem to have been the case, Minister Coveney has been caught short here and affirmative action is needed.
“Minister Coveney needs to immediately provide extra resources to An Bord Bia so it can find alternative markets for the dairy, beef, seafood and pig meat that will now not be sold to Russia. The ban will cause downward pressure on the agri-food industry which is dealing with the effects of the beef crisis and the fodder crisis of last year.
“The ban jeopardises the growth of the agri-food industry, which cannot be allowed to happen. Bord Bia now needs to be provided with additional resources immediately to find new and existing markets for the extra produce which have a limited shelf life.”