€100 million Brexit scheme for food processing ‘not of immediate help to farmers’

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has shown concern that the €100 million Brexit scheme announced for the food processing sector will “not be of immediate help to farmers to address the potential impact of Brexit”.

Also Read: Government announces €100 million Brexit scheme for food processing sector

The new capital investment scheme for the processing and marketing of agricultural products will be managed by Enterprise Ireland and will open for applications in January.

Tim Cullinan, president of the IFA said that while the Christmas Eve Brexit trade agreement will avoid immediate tariffs and quotas, “there are still uncertainties for farmers about the potential impact of Brexit-related disruption to markets”.

“[The] announcement will not help farmers in the short-term. The minister must be ready to provide immediate support to farmers if markets are disrupted in the coming days and weeks,” he added.

‘Important to driving the step-change in investment needed’

Meanwhile, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has welcomed the announcement by government of the funding.

In a statement, MII said that support for investment in transformative projects to assist the meat processing sector in market and product diversification has been “a key priority for MII for several years now”, particularly in the context of Brexit.

The statement continued:

“Early in 2020, the government secured a €200 million EU state aid approval for investment in primary food processing to assist the sector in meeting the challenges of Brexit.

“While the December 24 completion of a trade agreement between the EU and UK that maintains a tariff-free trading environment is very welcome, our meat processing and export companies will still be confronted with costly and disruptive customs and veterinary documentation and checks in the post-Brexit era.

These introduce new competitiveness challenges, as does the prospect of future UK trade deals with other trade partners, greatly increasing the battle for shelf space in the UK market.

“While we will continue to work to retain the place of Irish meat in the UK supply chain, market and product diversification remain a central strategy for our important meat processing sector.

“Efforts continue to diversify our meat export portfolio across European markets, but the major potential for growth and diversification exists in international markets.

“Processing, packing, refrigeration and logistics for supplying international markets across the globe require significant new investment in capability and competitiveness. [The] announcement is important to driving the step-change in investment needed.”