Wednesday, 6 February 2019
Ceisteanna - Questions - Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions
Our endeavours to date have been to build resilience within the sector. We have invested in measures such as the environmental efficiency programme in the beef sector announced this week and restoring cuts to the areas of natural constraints scheme while working with the industry on the food innovation hub, the prepared consumer foods initiative, the meat technology centre and low-interest loans. That is building resilience within the sector here.
The premise of the Deputy's question seems to be that preparedness can mitigate all of the impacts of a hard Brexit; it cannot. The situation will change irreversibly once the UK leaves the EU. We hope that it leaves with a transition agreement and future trading relationship in place. However, even if we get to that optimum position for its departure, the situation will never be as good as it currently is. In addition to building resilience inside and outside the farm gate, we have engaged with all of our EU partners to create awareness of our exposure, which is unique in terms of its extent relative to other member states, and to prepare them to respond.
The Deputy mentioned the issue of tariffs. Unfortunately, we do not currently know what the response of the UK will be - tariffs, no tariffs or something in between - and that limits our ability to protect the value of the market. Until that becomes clear, it will not be possible to respond in a meaningful way. I am satisfied that we have prepared the groundwork in terms of latitude to the State and EU awareness in terms of the common organisation of the markets regulation and exceptional aid measures in order to be able to respond as needed.