Michael Creed, Ireland’s minister for agriculture, food and the marine today called for a coordinated approach following the UK’s vote to leave the EU.
Creed made his plea during a special meeting of Ireland’s Food Wise High Level Implementation Committee to discuss the fall out from Brexit, and its implications for the agriculture and food sectors.
“We are all familiar with the particular dependence of the agri-food sector on the UK market,” he said after the meeting. “The most immediate concern for our agri-food exporters is exchange rate volatility and it is important that we have a coherent and joined-up approach to managing those immediate pressures.”
Creed added he was pleased that state agencies were being proactive in their advice and support, but warned it would be some time before the full extent of the impact of Brexit would be known.
“It is important that we retain perspective and do not exaggerate the potential implications, which at this point are unknown.”
It was agreed at the meeting that a contact group will be set up, with representatives from the various agencies and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to meet regularly to monitor the situation.
The meeting was attended by the CEOs and senior officials from Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, Teagasc and Bord Iascaigh Mhara, as well as senior officials from the Departments of Agriculture Food and the Marine, Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Public Expenditure and Reform.
This is in addition to the consultative committee of stakeholders announced by the Minister last week, who has also set up a dedicated unit within the Department to deal with any issues that arise regarding negotiations.
Yesterday, Longord/Westmeath MP Willie Penrose, Labour’s spokesperson for Agriculture, Food and the Marine questioned Creed on his plans to safeguard the agri-food sector in Ireland.
Deputy Penrose said: “As a Longford/Westmeath TD, I am fully aware that Brexit is an issue of enormous concern to those in rural Ireland and in particular to those in the agri-food sector.
“Britain represents Ireland’s most important agri-food export market, accounting for over 40% of agricultural exports.
“Local farmers and interests groups will be directly affected by the UK’s recent EU exit and so they must be consulted and protected.”