Government needs to engage with Farming and Agri-Food interests in Northern Ireland – Brendan Smith T.D.

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil T.D. Brendan Smith has called upon the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to have specific engagement with farming and agri-food interests in Northern Ireland in relation to the difficulties that will arise for this sector due to Brexit.

Deputy Brendan Smith said that there are common interests for farmers on all of this island in relation to the particular difficulties that will arise due to Brexit and that over the past 15-20 years that there has been enormous co-operation and development of the agri-food sector on an all Ireland basis. He emphasised that these developments have been beneficial for all farmers.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Michael Creed in his reply in Dáil Éireann to Brendan Smith stated

“Brexit poses enormous challenges for the agri-food sector in Ireland by virtue of its reliance on the UK market, and particularly the integrated nature of the trade with Northern Ireland.

The most immediate impact of Brexit has been the significant drop in the value of sterling against the euro, while some of the anticipated longer-term challenges are likely to include tariffs and trade, divergence in regulations and standards, border controls, and certification (including animal and plant health certification).

I and my officials have engaged extensively and on an ongoing basis with our UK counterparts, including those in Northern Ireland, since the Referendum result was announced in June 2016. Regular consultation has taken place at senior official level, both in the context of the North South Ministerial Council and on a more informal bilateral basis with Belfast and London, in an effort to maintain open and constructive lines of communication as developments have unfolded. These contacts will continue.

Prior to the dissolution of the Northern Ireland Assembly in January 2017, I met with Michelle McIlveen (DUP), the then Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, on a number of occasions to discuss the impact Brexit could have on the agri-food sector. These included more formal engagements in the context of the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC), such as those in Armagh in October 2016 and at the Plenary in November 2016.

In addition, I have hosted four All-Island Civic Dialogue events since last December, for thirteen different agri-food sectors under the Department of the Taoiseach’s All Island Civic Dialogue process. The Northern Ireland agri-food sector has been very strongly represented at these events. In all of these engagements we discussed the severe implications that Brexit could have for cross border agri-food trade in particular, and the potential steps that could be taken to mitigate its impact.

All of the information gathered at these events has fed into my Department’s preparations for the forthcoming negotiations as part of the EU 27 negotiating team.

The Government remains very focused on supporting the agri-food industry through the challenges ahead. I will continue to consult with the industry as the negotiations develop, and I will continue to press Ireland’s case for continued free access to the UK market, without tariffs and with minimal additional customs and administrative procedures”,

concluded Minister Creed in his reply in Dáil Éireann.

  ______________________________________________

For Written Answer on : 26/10/2017 

Question Number(s): 220 Question Reference(s): 45601/17 

Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine 

______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine if he has had specific engagement with farming and agri food interests in Northern Ireland in relation to the difficulties that will arise for this sector due to Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

Brexit poses enormous challenges for the agri-food sector in Ireland by virtue of its reliance on the UK market, and particularly the integrated nature of the trade with Northern Ireland.

The most immediate impact of Brexit has been the significant drop in the value of sterling against the euro, while some of the anticipated longer-term challenges are likely to include tariffs and trade, divergence in regulations and standards, border controls, and certification (including animal and plant health certification).

I and my officials have engaged extensively and on an ongoing basis with our UK counterparts, including those in Northern Ireland, since the Referendum result was announced in June 2016. Regular consultation has taken place at senior official level, both in the context of the North South Ministerial Council and on a more informal bilateral basis with Belfast and London, in an effort to maintain open and constructive lines of communication as developments have unfolded. These contacts will continue.

Prior to the dissolution of the Northern Ireland Assembly in January 2017, I met with Michelle McIlveen (DUP), the then Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, on a number of occasions to discuss the impact Brexit could have on the agri-food sector. These included more formal engagements in the context of the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC), such as those in Armagh in October 2016 and at the Plenary in November 2016.

In addition, I have hosted four All-Island Civic Dialogue events since last December, for thirteen different agri-food sectors under the Department of the Taoiseach’s All Island Civic Dialogue process. The Northern Ireland agri-food sector has been very strongly represented at these events. In all of these engagements we discussed the severe implications that Brexit could have for cross border agri-food trade in particular, and the potential steps that could be taken to mitigate its impact.

All of the information gathered at these events has fed into my Department’s preparations for the forthcoming negotiations as part of the EU 27 negotiating team.

The Government remains very focused on supporting the agri-food industry through the challenges ahead. I will continue to consult with the industry as the negotiations develop, and I will continue to press Ireland’s case for continued free access to the UK market, without tariffs and with minimal additional customs and administrative procedures.

 

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