Calls for EU fund to support agriculture hit by currency changes caused by Brexit

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has been called on to seek the establishment of a special EU fund to be used to support agriculture badly affected by currency changes triggered by Brexit.

Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Agriculture Martin Kenny made the call yesterday in the Dail and said that the fund should also support small exporting businesses.

During the special debate on the British vote to leave the EU, Deputy Kenny said that the Brexit vote in Britain signifies great negativity toward the EU among people all across Europe and this should send a message to all governments about how they operate and conduct EU affairs.

“Economically, Brexit has the potential to be a disaster, but we are where are and now our responsibility is to ensure that this decision by the British electorate does not adversely affect Ireland, North or south.”

I would suggest that Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed call together the Beef Forum urgently to access the uncertainly this development will have on our beef trade, of which huge quantities go across the Irish Sea.

“Farmers and our food industry are very concerned about the immediate impact of Sterling fluctuations and in the longer term, tariffs, animal health issues and competition from other food producers outside the EU, all negatively affecting our industry.”

The Sinn Fein TD said that Ireland’s small exporting businesses are also in turmoil with the prospect of border controls and tariffs on trade coming down the line.

Also Read: Brexit: 5 reasons farmers should keep a close eye on the euro/Sterling exchange rate

Currency fluctuations may move profitable export businesses scattered across Ireland into the loss-making bracket, he said.

“Many may require temporary financial support to survive and continue to employ staff and export product.

“In his meeting this with the EU, the Taoiseach should seek the establishment of a special EU fund to be used to support our agriculture and small exporting businesses, as Ireland is in a uniquely difficult place due to this British exit.”

Open border

Speaking in the Dail this week, the Taoiseach said that all three administrations (the Irish Government, UK government and Northern Ireland Executive) share the common objective of wanting to preserve the common travel area, which has existed since 1922, and an open border on the island of Ireland.

“Next Monday’s plenary meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council in Dublin, which I will chair, will provide an opportunity for the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to have a strategic discussion around how we are going to work together to protect the interests of all our citizens on the island of Ireland,” he said.

As of yet, it is unknown what is to become of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic as there are no guidelines to follow.

‘Exchange rate fluctuations the biggest issue to agri-food sector in light of Brexit’

Meanwhile, a new report has found that the biggest threat to the Irish agri-food sector, in light of Brexit, is fluctuations in the exchange rate.

The report, ‘Competitiveness of Food & Agri-Businesses at Risk from Brexit’ by risk management company Aon, found that extreme currency movements threatening to eat into thin profit margins, according to the Food, Agribusiness and Beverage Risk Insights Survey 2016.

Some 41% of all Irish food exports are exported to the UK, and the Brexit vote will challenge the sector as it copes with the slide in the value of sterling and the extreme uncertainty about how future trading relationships will evolve.

Food & Agri-Business Practice Leader at Aon, Ciara Jackson, and author of the report Brexit has the potential to severely challenge the competitiveness of the Irish food and agri-business sector.

“The UK’s importance as an export destination for Irish produce means that the collapse in the value of sterling (making Irish exports more expensive) could particularly hurt lower margin businesses where profits can quickly swing to losses.”