Fine Gael Kildare South TD Martin Heydon has this week received an update on the work of the Department of Agriculture following the United Kingdom vote to leave the EU. He raised the issue with Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed during questions in the Dail Wednesday.
“Given the concerns that exist in the farming community as well as the bloodstock industry I asked the Minister for Agriculture to outline the measures being taken within his Department to protect and promote the agricultural sector following the UK vote on Brexit.
“The Minister in his response set out the issues from an agrifood sector trading point of view that will create considerable challenges. The UK is by far our largest trading partner. Last year we exported almost €5.1 billion worth of agricultural products. This included more than €1.1 billion in beef products and almost €970 million in dairy exports. Ireland is also the UK’s largest destination for its food exports, worth €3.8 billion last year.
“I specifically raised concerns regarding the Bloodstock industry which is worth 1.1 billion to our economy, and is inextricably linked to the UK in terms of our sales of foals and horses. Any changes to tariffs or borders with implications on trade would have a devastating impact on a bloodstock industry that is worth a huge amount to our economy and employs over 16,000 people.
“This minister acknowledged these concerns stating that he had recently met representatives of the Bloodstock industry on this issue and confirmed the importance of such exports. Both his Department, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Taoiseach are creating and elevating an awareness of the unique position we are in because of our relationship with the UK and our trading exposure there.
“I was pleased to hear that Department has engaged in detailed contingency planning for the possibility of this result and has already undertaken a number of measures to ensure a sensible, coherent approach is adopted, such as:
establishing a dedicated unit in my Department to work on all of the issues that I have mentioned;
convened a Consultative Committee of stakeholders, which met for the first time last week, to ensure a full exchange of information as the negotiations proceed;
ensuring that the response of the relevant agencies is fully coordinated through a contact group established under the Food Wise 2025 High Level Implementation Committee, and
The Department will continue to feed into the central Contingency Framework being co-ordinated by the Department of the Taoiseach.
“It is important also to bear in mind that the precise implications of the referendum outcome will depend on the trade and other arrangements ultimately negotiated between the EU and the UK. These negotiations may take up to two years, and perhaps longer, and over that period existing arrangements will continue to apply.”
Notes to the Editor
Full details of the debate and the Ministers detailed reply can be seen here.