Thursday, 9 May 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Although the immediate prospect of a no-deal Brexit has waned, my officials are continuing to deepen and broaden preparatory arrangements in order to ensure that our state of readiness is maintained and enhanced against the backdrop of what continues to be an uncertain political environment.
My Department, as part of the whole-of-Government approach, has been very active in relation to preparedness for the import controls that will be required when the UK becomes a Third Country. In this regard, the focus has been on allowing the Department to fulfil its legal obligations as efficiently as possible, while also ensuring the minimum possible disruption to trading arrangements.
To help mitigate the impacts on the sector I have introduced a number of budgetary measures over the last three years aimed at helping farmers, improving competitiveness and supporting market and product diversification. This included a €78m package in Budget 2019 and the recently launched DBEI/DAFM “Future Growth Loan Scheme” which will provide €300m of long-term strategic investment loans that will be available to eligible Irish businesses, including farmers and the agrifood sector. These loans can be applied for through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI).
I have also been engaging with both Agriculture and Fisheries Commissioners at EU level to sensitise them to the impact on Irish agriculture and fisheries and to consider the kinds of measures that will be required to mitigate those impacts.
My 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 UK to continue.
I will continue to work to mitigate the impacts of Brexit on the agrifood sector and thereby ensure a vibrant agriculture sector that supports farm families and the rural economy.