Fianna Fáil Agriculture and Food Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has said he is very concerned at the inadequate resourcing of Bord Bia for its international office network by the Government since the Brexit referendum in 2016.

Deputy McConalogue said, “Bord Bia, the state agency under Minister Creed’s responsibility, is tasked with promoting Irish food at home and abroad.  It does important work including opening up new markets for the Irish agrifood sector and farmers.

“However, two years on from the referendum, official data confirms the shocking level of under resourcing of Bord Bia’s network of international offices.

“Shockingly, there has been no new Bord Bia staff hired in international offices since 2016. This is unbelievable when we hear the Government talking about Brexit proofing for all scenarios.

“While it is welcome that Bord Bia is recruiting an additional 11 market specialists for overseas offices, you have to question the level of prioritisation by the Government over the last two years as we approach a doomsday no deal Brexit scenario.

“We need to be ahead of our global competitors and first in line in accessing these new markets. Instead, we are leading from behind. These new staff should have been in place 6-12 months after the referendum.

“Minister Creed has also confirmed that Bord Bia has just 13 international offices abroad with 24 staff. Startlingly, only 5 offices are located outside of the EU. Worse still, there is no office in Japan despite the conclusion of an EU-Japan trade deal that will permit access of Irish dairy and meat product into the country.

“This is an appalling level of support for Bord Bia and shows once more the scant resource readiness by the Government for Ireland’s most exposed sector.

The next budget must ensure sufficient funds are provided to increase Bord Bia’s global office footprint.”