While ratification of the withdrawal agreement is still the Government's primary focus, and preparations are continuing for all scenarios, greater priority has of course been given recently to preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
My Department, as part of a whole-of-Government approach, has been very active in this regard. Regarding preparedness for import controls, we have been working with other Departments and agencies to have the necessary import control arrangements in place 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 in order to keep stakeholders informed and to encourage them to take the necessary steps to allow their trading arrangements with the United Kingdom to continue. This is happening through increased engagement with stakeholders, an enhanced Brexit page on the Department's website, the circulation of focused trader notices, the establishment of a dedicated Brexit call centre and central email address, and the increased use of social media.
In order to help mitigate the impacts on the sector, I have introduced a number of budgetary measures over the past three years aimed at helping farmers and fishermen, at improving competitiveness, and at supporting market and product diversification. This included a €78 million package in budget 2019. This provided an additional €43 million given directly to farmers, including €23 million in additional funding for the areas of natural constraints, ANC, scheme and €20 million for the beef environmental efficiency pilot, which complements the €300 million beef data and genomics scheme.
More recently - including on the margins of last week's Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels - I have held bilateral discussions with Commissioner Hogan on the impact of Brexit and the need for comprehensive supports to be deployed, in particular to mitigate the impact on the beef sector. The common organisation of the markets, CMO, regulation, which was put in place under the Irish Presidency of the European Union in 2013, provides a comprehensive toolbox for dealing with market disruption. This includes intervention, aids to private storage and exceptional measures. The Commissioner has reiterated the European Union's readiness to respond and support Ireland, and we will remain in contact on these issues as the situation evolves.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
I also recently met fisheries Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, to discuss and share concerns about the potential serious impacts for Irish fishing fleets if they are excluded from UK waters in a no-deal Brexit situation. Commissioner Vella has already indicated that member states can have additional flexibility in the use of existing European Maritime and Fisheries Fund-funded programmes to support fishermen in the event of a hard Brexit. He has also indicated that the EU has the necessary legal framework to manage reciprocal arrangements after Brexit should the UK provide access to its waters to the end of 2019.