The Agri-food sector must benefit significantly from new proposed Brexit funding, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
The European Commission has proposed an initial allocation for Ireland of €1.05 billion, almost a quarter of the initial allocation of €4.2 billion that will be made from the Reserve in 2021.
Senator Garret Ahearn, from Tipperary, said, “The European Commission proposal that Ireland should receive 25% of the Brexit Adjustment Reserve is very a welcome acknowledgement of the significant impact of Brexit on Ireland.
“The fund is designed to provide financial support to the member states and sectors most adversely affected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and there is no doubt that the agri-food sector here in Ireland is one of those most adversely affected.
“Not only is it one of the sectors most disadvantaged by Brexit, but it is also a sector with significant potential to contribute towards Ireland’s recovery as we respond to the damage done to our economy during COVID-19. The agri-food sector has been able to keep producing and exporting despite the many challenges of this difficult period. It’s also worth noting that the sector was a significant part of our economic recovery after the crash of 2008.
“My own county of Tipperary is hugely dependent on agriculture. There are over 7,000 farmers in the region contributing approximately 10% of the national agricultural output. 23% of farms are involved in dairy production, 70% are involved in cattle production while 4% of farms are involved in tillage production, with significant activity also in sheep, pigs and forestry and alternative enterprises.
“I strongly hope that the European Parliament and the Council approve this proposed funding of €1.05 billion for Ireland, and I urge that the agri-food sector is given top priority when it comes to the distribution of the funding. I would also like to see a good proportion of the funding allocated to the agri-food sector going directly to the primary producers.
“Agriculture has the potential to make an increased contribution to national economic recovery and I know that Tipperary farmers can be the forefront of this effort.”