Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Food Industry

Photo of Pádraig O'SullivanPádraig O'Sullivan (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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167. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he is taking to maintain and develop food security in Ireland given the impact of the Ukrainian crisis on European food supplies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16991/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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Last year, Ireland was ranked first in terms of food security, according to the Economist's Global Food Security Index across a range of indicators.

The people of Ireland have shown great support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. The Government also remains resolute in its solidarity & support and will continue to co-ordinate a humanitarian, economic and diplomatic response to the crisis.

Significant implications are being seen across all sectors, including the agri-food sector. As well as the immediate humanitarian crisis, which must take priority, we need to take the necessary steps to ensure that food security is maintained, for EU citizens, for the Ukrainian people and in the wider global context.

At farm level, the crisis is already impacting on the price of animal feed, fertiliser and fuel. Within my Department, I have established a Rapid Response Team, chaired by the Secretary General, to actively monitor the impacts on agri-food supply chains and to contribute to the whole of Government response to this crisis.

I have established the National Fodder and Food Security Committee headed by Teagasc and tasked it to prepare an industry response to the emerging crisis in feed, fodder, fertiliser and other inputs, and to develop contingency plans and advice to assist farmers in managing their farm enterprises.

On 22nd March, the Government approved my proposal for a targeted intervention package for the tillage sector and a multi-species sward initiative, worth over €12 million to support Irish farmers. This package is aimed at producing more native crops and reducing dependency on imports, and on producing crops with a low demand for chemical fertiliser.

An emergency aid scheme for pig farmers of €7 million opened for applications on 7 March. This will provide commercial pig farmers a payment of up to €20,000 each. The first payments to pig farmers under this scheme began to issue last week.

At EU level I have met with EU Agriculture Ministers and on 23rd March the European Commission announced a package of measures to assist the sector including a €500 million package to support farmers most affected.

This includes an allocation of €15.8 million for Ireland, which can be topped up by national funding. I will be examining ways to best mobilise this support as soon as possible, taking account of the detailed requirements and conditionality attached to this exceptional aid provision.

The EU package also includes plans to deploy market safety net measures to support specific markets including private storage aid for pigmeat.

I will continue to engage with all our stakeholders and will continue to work across Government, and with our European partners, to respond to this crisis using all of the tools at our disposal. I assure the Deputy that both I and the Government are committed to protecting our farm families and their businesses through period of great challenge and uncertainty.


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