Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Clare Cllr. Cathal Crowe says farmers and agri-businesses in the county are becoming increasingly worried about the lack of solutions being put forward by government as Brexit fast approaches.

“Farmers and agri-food producers in Clare are genuinely worried about the lack of contingency plans in place.  There’s only two months until the UK is due to leave the EU, and even in the event of an orderly Brexit measures will still be needed to support the sector”, said Cllr. Crowe.

“Agri-food businesses in the county are hugely exposed to Brexit.  There are more than 6,000 families involved in farming as well as dozens of small, artisan food producers who do not have the financial resources to deal with a major shock.

“They have worked incredibly hard to build up their reputations and earn their place on UK shelves.  Any disruption to the East-West supply chain could see Irish, locally sourced products lose their market share and be replaced with products from other countries.

“The government is leaving these families in limbo.  There is a complete lack of communication when it comes to Brexit planning.  With around 80,000 beef cows in the county, Clare’s dependency on beef production is double that of dairy. Nearly all agri-commentators predict that the beef and live export sectors will be worst hit by a no-deal Brexit yet virtually nothing has been put in place to ensure a ‘soft landing’ for farm families who depend on the buoyancy of these markets.

“There is still no clarity on the landbridge, alternative shipping routes to continental Europe or the capacity of our ships to manage additional freight.  How can our farmers and businesses attempt to plan ahead if they do not even have access to the most basic information?

“A plan after the event is not a plan at all, and there is a real fear that supports and solutions post March 29th will be too little too late.  We need to see a path forward now to minimise risk to the agri-sector post Brexit day in March,” concluded Cllr Crowe.