Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says he’s seriously concerned by the Government’s haphazard plans to protect farmers and the agri-food sector from a hard Brexit.  Deputy Smith says he’s particularly worried about the impact of the British decision to leave the EU on producers and businesses in the Border region.

“Brexit is the biggest challenge facing this country and the agri-food sector could be seriously damaged.  We have already had a taste of things to come, with falling Sterling impacting on the competitiveness of the mushroom industry, which is one of the biggest employers across Cavan and Monaghan.  Any further instability could result in indigenous companies having to reassess their viability with serious repercussions for jobs and employment”, explained Deputy Smith.

“I am not convinced that this Government has a credible plan in place to negate the impact of Brexit on the agri-food industry.  Information provided to Fianna Fáil reveals that Minister Creed has assigned only 3 staff from the Department of Agriculture to deal with Brexit related issues.  This is incredible.  The agri-food sector supports around 270,000 jobs across rural Ireland but I fear the Government has not fully woken up to the challenges facing it.

“Last year Minister Creed established a Brexit Consultative Committee to act as a liaison between the Department of Agriculture and sector stakeholders through the Brexit process.  However, since it was set up last July the Committee has only held two meetings.  This is a stark representation of just how seriously the Government is taking the Brexit threat.

“Minister Creed needs to work to radically improve the Government’s approach to Brexit.  The agri-food sector is having to deal with a unique challenge and the Government must wake up to the seriousness of this threat and start preparing and acting accordingly”, concluded Deputy Smith.