In line with the Government decisions of 18 July and 18 September, my Department has been working closely with other Departments on Brexit preparedness. The primary focus has been on the staffing, infrastructural and IT requirements that will arise in the context of the implementation of import controls at ports and airports on an east-west basis.
Depending on the shape of the final deal, these requirements are likely to be significant and will arise in respect of the import of live animals, plants and products of animal and plant origin from the UK into Ireland and the EU once the UK has become a third country. There are also likely to be significant export certification requirements for the export of such products to the UK, although this is a matter for the UK authorities.
Accordingly, I have made provision in my Department's Estimate for 2019 for the commencement of a phased process of recruitment of additional staff to carry out the greatly increased volumes of import controls and export certification arising from Brexit. A sum of €4 million has been set aside for this purpose, with a further initial provision in 2019 of just over €3 million to address ICT hardware and software requirements. Further expenditure is planned in these areas in 2020 and 2021, with full-year staffing costs from 2021 estimated to be €28 million.
My Department is also continuing to engage intensively with the Office of Public Works and other Departments on the additional infrastructure that will be required at ports and airports, in accordance with the Government decision of 18 September 2018.
Together with my colleagues, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Simon Coveney, and the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Heather Humphreys, I recently launched a new Government communications campaign on Brexit preparedness. This will provide information to stakeholders on our planning activities, and includes a series of so-called "Brexpo" events during the month of October.
Additionally, the Government has introduced a range of measures to deal with the short-term impacts of Brexit. To deal with competitiveness issues, my Department introduced a €150 million low-cost loan scheme, new agri-taxation measures and increased funding under the rural development and seafood development programmes in the 2017 budget. In budget 2018, I provided €25 million to underpin a €300 million Brexit loan scheme to provide affordable flexible financing to Irish businesses, at least 40% of which will be available to food businesses. This scheme will be rolled out in 2019.
Under market diversification, my Department is supporting Bord Bia in its investment in market insight through its The Thinking House, and in market prioritisation initiatives aimed at identifying and developing potential diversification opportunities. I have increased funding to Bord Bia by 60% since 2014.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House.
As regards product diversification, I am supporting Teagasc in the development of a new national food innovation hub in Fermoy and will provide €6 million for this purpose in 2019.
I also announced further measures worth €78 million in this week's budget, which are aimed at helping farmers, fishermen, food SMEs and my Department navigate the many challenges associated with Brexit.
I assure the Deputy that the Government remains focused on supporting the agrifood industry through the challenges ahead. The Government will be firm in arguing that any agreement reached between the EU and the UK must take account of the serious challenges presented by Brexit for the sector, particularly given the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland and the importance of our economic relationship with the UK. Of course, ultimately, Ireland's objective in the negotiations is to have a trading relationship with the UK which is as close as possible to the current arrangements.