Reassurances that ‘farm families’ will be supported through Brexit

Tainiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney moved to “reassure farm families” during a Dáil discussion on Brexit last Thursday, April 11.

The minister said that while Ireland is more exposed and more vulnerable to a no-deal Brexit he wanted to reassure farm families that, in the event of a no-deal, “we will be ready to support Irish farm families and the food industry through what will be a very difficult period of change and disruption”.

There are 130,000 farm families in Ireland of which nearly 100,000 get some farm income from beef while 70,000 get all of their farming income from beef.

He continued: “We are working with the European Commission. EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan has been very strong on this also and there will be a significant support package to help farmers through the disruption of a no-deal Brexit.”

Meanwhile, Coveney highlighted the fact that Ireland exports more than €1 billion worth of beef and dairy to the UK.

“Should this trade be subject to tariffs in the future, or to other non-tariff trade barriers, it would be very damaging to Irish agricultural.

“We are conscious of this and we have been for many months. Hardly a cabinet meeting passes without the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Micheal Creed raising these issues and the challenges that emerge from them.”

CAP budget

With regard to CAP the minister said that in his previous role as minister for agriculture he was involved in its finalisation.

He then pointed to the “competitive environment” that now exists for EU funds.

“With the UK likely to leave the EU and with increasing demand for more money in EU budgets, at the same time, we have seen some pressure on the CAP budget and on other regional budgets.

The Government has made it very clear that it is a priority for us in the new multi-annual financial framework (MFF) to protect the CAP budget.

Coveney concluded: “We have said that we will contribute more to EU budgets as long as the CAP budget is protected. We have developed a strong alliance across the EU to protect the CAP budget.”