Thursday, 13 June 2019

Questions (179)

Charlie McConalogue


179. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the criterion set down in a draft EU Commission implementing regulation providing temporary exceptional adjustment aid to farmers in the beef sector that the support will be given on the condition that measures taken by Ireland shall be aimed at reducing production or restructuring the beef and veal sector (details supplied); when his attention was first drawn to the fact that this specific restructuring criterion would need to be fulfilled for such adjustment aid; and the position he took when his attention was drawn to this provision. [24813/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I have had ongoing discussions with Commissioner Hogan regarding the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit. I have stressed the need for the Commission to be ready to deploy a range of measures to mitigate the potential impacts on the agri-food and fisheries sector. Avoiding a no-deal Brexit continues to be the Government’s overriding policy priority.

I am also keenly aware that the past few months have been very difficult for beef farmers in particular, following a difficult year for farm incomes in 2018 due to weather conditions. There has been a prolonged and exceptional period of depressed prices since last autumn, with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Brexit, among other factors, contributing to this market disturbance.

The recent announcement by Commissioner Hogan of EU exceptional aid for the Irish beef sector is very welcome in this context.  I have been making the case for some time for an exceptional aid package from the EU Commission for Irish beef farmers, at EU Council of Agriculture Minister meetings, and in direct consultation with the Commission. The announcement by the Commissioner is another example of the importance of EU solidarity when it comes to facing significant economic challenges.

This exceptional aid provision will be given effect through a Commission Implementing Regulation. While Member States will be invited to give an opinion on the draft Regulation through the Commission’s Common Market Organisation Management Committee, the draft Regulation is within the Commission’s own legal competence, and is not for negotiation with Ireland or indeed other Member States, in terms of its content.

Further details on the aid package will be announced in due course following the appropriate stakeholder consultation.