Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West Aindrias Moynihan says he is extremely worried about the government’s lack of urgency in planning for a post-Brexit scenario in the agriculture sector. He raised the issue directly with Minister Creed in the Dáil this week.
Several reports have highlighted the profoundly negative impact that Brexit will have on agriculture and our agri-food industry in particular, but the government has failed to act to adequately insulate the sector.
Deputy Moynihan explained, “There does not appear to be the urgency from the government, in getting the agri sector properly prepared for the impacts of what could be hard Brexit. You only have to look at the relatively low take up of loans from the Brexit Scheme.
“The much lauded low cost loan scheme for farmers, which was announced back in October 2017 only opened this week – the week in which the UK was originally meant to leave the EU. That does not leave much room for farmers to put plans in place to protect themselves from a hard or no deal Brexit.
“Despite the growth in new markets, the UK remains by far our single largest trading partner for the agri-food sector. In 2017 agri-food exports to the UK totalled € 5.2 billion (38%) while imports were €4.1 billion (48%) with a trade surplus of over €1 billion. The drop in Sterling has already affected exporters and our competitiveness.
“This government has been slow to act and has failed to communicate a plan to the agriculture community to support them and help them plan for the post-Brexit landscape.
“We were previously told that the government has studied in detail the implications of different scenarios. The government should, without delay, publish its response plan to deal with the fallout of Brexit on the agri sector,” concluded Deputy Moynihan.