Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (67)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

67. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he remains satisfied regarding the provisions made by his Department to offset a Brexit crash-out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13991/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I have said on many occasions that there is no upside to Brexit, particularly in the agri-food sector.

In order to help mitigate the potential impacts on the sector I have introduced a number of budgetary measures aimed at improving competitiveness, and developing market and product diversification. These included a series of low cost loan schemes to assist in on-farm and agri business cost effectiveness, and additional supports to Bord Bia and Teagasc to support market and product diversification in order to help reduce our exposure to the UK market.

I have also had a series of bilateral discussions with Commissioner Hogan on the impact of Brexit, including en marge of the Council of Agriculture Ministers in Brussels last week. Commissioner Hogan has reiterated the EU’s readiness to respond and support Ireland, and we will remain in contact on these issues as the situation evolves.

While ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement is still the Government's primary objective, preparations are underway for a no-deal Brexit.

My Department has been working with other departments and agencies to have the necessary arrangements in place for import controls at our ports and airports in order to allow the Department to fulfil its legal obligations as efficiently as possible, while also ensuring the minimum possible disruption to trading arrangements.

The Department has also sharpened its Brexit communications strategy through an enhanced Brexit page on its website, the circulation of focused Trader Notices, the establishment of a Brexit Call Centre and dedicated email address, and increased use of social media such as TWITTER. I would urge operators in the sector to engage with these services as we continue our preparations for a possible no deal Brexit.