Thursday, 15 July 2021
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
479. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which the strict rules in relation to food production and traceability continue to apply in jurisdictions from which Ireland imports or exports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38958/21]
The import of products of animal origin from third countries is governed by a comprehensive and robust legislative framework laid down at EU level, controlled by Member States in the first instance, and audited by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Food Safety to ensure compliance with all of the relevant food safety standards. Countries and indeed establishments within third countries that export to the EU must in the first instance be listed by the EU, as meeting the appropriate standards and controls. The legislation imposes health and supervisory requirements designed to ensure that imported products meet standards equivalent to those required for production and trade between Member States. Production in EU member states in carried out in accordance with EU law and subject to oversight audit by the EU Commission.
Veterinary checks are carried out by staff from the Department on consignments of foods of animal origin imported from third countries at designated Border Control Posts. All such consignments are subject to documentary, identity and physical checks as appropriate in line with legislative requirements. This may also include sampling of products, according to European regulations.
This comprehensive and robust legislative framework and the checks carried out by the relevant competent authorities across EU member states ensure that imports met the requisite standards.
481. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the degree to which alternative third-country markets are being established for Irish agricultural produce given the impact of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38960/21]
482. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans for the establishment of new markets for dairy, beef and pigmeat in the wake of Brexit with particular reference to addressing the issues of greatest or most pressing need at the earliest possible date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38961/21]
483. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which his Department has identified new EU or non-EU markets for Irish quality product in the dairy, beef and or pigmeat sectors with a view to ensuring sustainability and viability in the future for family farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38962/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 480 to 483, inclusive, together.
Developing increased trade opportunities continues to be an integral part of the Department’s response to the challenges posed by Brexit. The key challenge here is to continue to maximise the volume and value of Irish agri-food exports to all destinations, and to anticipate and, as best we can, mitigate the potential impact of adverse developments in trading patterns.
This requires a two-handed approach, comprised of support for our existing and potential future UK trade, as well as further development and diversification in EU and third country markets.
The Department and its agencies have invested hugely in this work. Encouragingly, and despite an extremely challenging year in 2020, exports totalled €14.1 billion compared with exports of €12.6 billion in 2016, the year the UK voted to leave the EU. In 2020, 37% of agri-food exports went to the UK, which was down from 40% in 2016. Remaining agri-food exports in 2020 were split between the EU-27 market (31%) and other third country markets (32%).
The Department continues to be very active in the development of EU and third country markets through Trade Missions and key customer engagements. These were carried out virtually in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are also continuing to work on the opportunities provided by recent EU Free Trade Agreements with third countries, and to press for the removal of technical market access barriers across a range of third country markets.
Recent budgets have provided additional funding to Bord Bia to support increased market diversification and promotional campaigns. Bord Bia continues to assist companies to establish a presence overseas through its network of offices and the Department's expanded network of agriculture attachés actively supports Bord Bia and exporters in this regard.